Presenting results for the latest Trading Statement, William Hill CEO Philip Bowcock described how the company will prioritise expansion into overseas markets in an attempt to combat any potential losses felt from forthcoming UK regulatory increases.
The firm recorded positive results for the 17-week period to 24 October, but Bowcock believes further international growth will plug any gaps in UK revenue triggered by the forthcoming fixed-odds betting terminal (FOBT) restrictions.
He said: “We are still predominantly UK-based with UK revenues, and if you think that regulation is only going in one direction then by default you need to start thinking about diversification outside the UK.”
The statement also detailed strong US growth, driven by mobile growth, and this is something William Hill will look to build on moving into 2018. The company are also “looking forward to” the impending Supreme Court decision relating to the relaxing of the laws surrounding sports betting, and a positive result will inevitably further the plans for an extended international footprint.
In terms of having the right personnel in place to oversee this growth, Bowcock spoke confidently about his current team, describing them as “well set” and claiming “the evidence of the last twelve months has proven that”.
The Australia Problem
As detailed in the Q3 trading statement, there was a 5% drop in amounts wagered in Australia – a blight on an otherwise positive quarterly update. Bowcock highlighted the ban on bookmakers offering credit to customers, which came into place at the end of April, as the primary factor for the decline. The Point of Consumption (POC) Tax has also been in place in the state of South Australia since July, and Bowcock notes that William Hill are “working on the assumption” that this will become a nationwide tax by 2019.
With that in mind, he describes how the company is “being very careful about investment at this time”, and is deploying a short-term mindset when dealing with this market. Nevertheless, Bowcock dismissed any idea of William Hill abandoning the Australian market completely, noting that “they bet more than anyone else, and that makes it a very interesting place to be”.
He summarised by saying “we are comfortable with where we are and we continue to aim to grow”.
Source: SBC News