Despite recording a near 9 per cent, year-on-year, decline in revenue for Q3 (ending September 29), British bookies William Hill are toughing it out with positive spin.
The return of major sporting action helped ameliorate the negative financial impact of coronavirus Covid-19 lockdowns and protocols. But online gaming and iGaming verticals failed to make up the shortfall.
“We are very pleased with the trading performance of the group, which has been borne out of the commitment, resilience and hard work of our teams across the business, and I could not be prouder of them,” said Chief Executive Ulrik Bengtsson.
Online revenue, overall, was up 4 per cent in Q3, year-on-year, the company said in a statement, with the British online market growing 4 per cent and international operations by some 6 per cent.
Sports betting rose by 3 per cent.
The bookmaker, meantime, is hoping for a significant international boost if its application for online sports betting and iGaming licences in Germany are approved.
But William Hill’s bricks-and-mortar sector continued to be a downer. Q3 revenues from the 1,400 betting shops, which reopened mid-June, fell 2 per cent, year-on-year, and another retail lockdown, threatening Q4 performance, is on the horizon because of the re-emergence of the virus. Across-the-counter sports wagering also fell, by 4 per cent.
There was better news for the gaming giant from its operations in the United States. Net revenue in the US increased by 10 per cent, year-on-year, with gaming net revenue more than doubling and sportsbook wagers up by 55 per cent.
In further positives, the bookmaker has opened new sportsbooks in the states of Colorado, Illinois, Michigan, Washington DC and Pennsylvania, all to be promoted on the ESPN channel.
“We have moved the company forward with our relentless focus on our customers, enhancing the competitiveness of our product, and maintaining player safety as one of our highest priorities,” said William Hill boss Bengtsson.
Nevertheless euphemisms, along the lines of “robust” trading, are not enough to cover the reality of a significant 25 per cent drop in group revenue for the first nine months of 2020, compared to same period last year.
While online revenues have risen 2 per cent during this time frame, UK retail revenue in the last three financial quarters of this year has fallen 35 per cent, compared to 2019.
Much is now riding on the potential success, or otherwise, of the recent £2.9 billion (US$3.8bn/€3.2bn) takeover of the iconic British bookies by Caesars Entertainment in the US.