William Hill, the largest operator of high street betting shops in Britain, reported results for the third quarter today. Revenue growth slowed to 2% and operating profit was 22% lower in the period, reflecting tough comparatives from last year’s World Cup.
William Hill, however, benefited from a spike in online revenue, which grew by 28%, the company said in a statement to the London Stock Exchange. Casino growth was greater than expected, up 41%, while overall gaming net revenue increased 34%, including 14% growth from poker and 9% from bingo.
“We have delivered a solid performance in Q3, in spite of a highly competitive market place and a tough consumer environment,” Chief Executive Ralph Topping said.
William Hill’s online casino launch in Italy on July 18 has exceeded expectations, with market share rising to between 8 and 9% in the first three months, according to figures published by Italian regulatory body AAMS.
“Internationally, the initial performance of William Hill Online’s new Italian casino website is beating expectations having taken around 8-9% market share and we are the most successful of the non-domestic new entrants,” added Topping.
Online costs, however, spiked with an undisclosed increase in marketing spend, which came in at 27% of net revenue compared with 20% in the third quarter last year. Costs also rose due to William Hill now paying tax in Italy and accruing for taxation in Spain and Greece.
The company confirmed that its acquisition of three land-based sports betting businesses in the US is “conditional on the granting of local regulatory licences.” Initial reviews have been undertaken and further meetings with the Nevada Gaming Commission are planned for the coming months. The process is expected to be finalised in 2012.
William Hill also said it was on track to meet market expectations for the full year. Forecasts for full year earnings before interest and tax (EBIT) range from £254 million to £288 million, with an average of £271 million, according to a Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S poll of 16 analysts.