William Hill Reports £30M Loss Due To UK Betting Shop Closures
William Hill has revealed how 2020’s nationwide COVID-19 lockdowns and restrictions have affected the company.
The leading gambling operator issued a trading update this week, reporting a 16% drop in total group net revenue to £1.3 billion for the year ending December 29. According to the Racing Post, the UK bookmaker attributes the fall in revenue to the Coronavirus pandemic, which led to a halt in live sport as well as frequent closures of William Hill’s 1,414 betting shops.
Despite the fall in revenue, William Hill reported a strong end to 2020, which it describes as “a year like no other”. In its trading update, the bookmaker reported that the total net revenue for the fourth quarter of 2020 had increased by 9% year-on-year with sportsbook betting up 16% and group sportsbook net revenue up 20%.
In addition, the bookmaker reported a growth in online UK net revenue, which increased by 5% and its online international net revenue which increased by 13% due to the integration of Mr Green. In the United States, meanwhile, the bookmaker’s net revenue increased by 32% with strong growth online.
The trading update also touched on the proposed £2.9 billion takeover by US casino operator Caesars Entertainment which William Hill shareholders voted in favour of back in November 2020. The deal is expected to complete in the second quarter of 2021 or as early as March if all US regulatory approvals are met.
Caesars already has plans to integrate William Hill’s US business with minimal job cuts but will be looking for a new owner of the non-US based business including its more than 1,400 betting shops. Caesars Entertainment CEO Tom Reeg said back in November: “William Hill’s sports betting expertise will complement Caesars’ current offering, enabling the combined group to serve our customers in the fast-growing US sports betting and online market.
“We look forward to working with William Hill to support future growth in the US by providing our customers with a superior and comprehensive experience across all areas of gaming, sports betting, and entertainment.”
There was speculation that online casino operator 888 Holdings was looking at making a bid for William Hill’s non-US business. The takeover would see 888 own all of William Hill’s betting shops and its online casino and betting operations throughout Europe. 888 Holdings Chief Executive Itai Pazner said the company was in a “good position” for acquisitions but did not confirm it was actively planning on taking over William Hill’s non-US business.
In the trading update released this week, William Hill Chief Executive Ulrik Bengtsson said: “2020 was a year like no other. It tested our agility and flexibility, and we delivered, keeping our customers and team safe, while materially improving our competitive position through product enhancements and geographical expansion.”
Then, speaking about Caesars’ proposed takeover, Bengtsson added: “The offer received for the group recognises the substantial progress we have made as well as the opportunities and challenges ahead of us.”
PlayOJO Launches New Play Toro Casino
As William Hill reports growth in its online casino revenue, it seems leading casino operator SkillOnNet is looking to expand its online operations with the launch of brand new online casino website PlayToro.
The gambling operator announced the launch of its new online casino this week, confirming that the website will be opening in several regulated markets including the UK, Denmark, Malta, Spain, and Sweden.
The site will be available in nine different languages and will reportedly offer PaynPlay, a service available in Sweden, Finland, and Germany which allows players to deposit without registering with the casino. Outside of those countries, the online casino will accept most traditional payment methods, including Paysafecard, PayPal, Skrill, Neteller, and VISA and MasterCard debit cards.
A press release by SkillOnNet states that the casino is being run by “experienced casino industry stalwarts and slot lovers”. The website reportedly offers more than 3,000 unique games including video slots, table games, live casino titles, and instant-win games too from leading providers such as Pragmatic Play, Microgaming, NetEnt, Big Time Gaming, Evolution, and Red Tiger Gaming among others.
In the United Kingdom, PlayToro is giving all newly registered users a generous welcome bonus of up to £50 plus 25 free spins. In addition, PlayToro will also feature SkillOnNet’s popular daily pick promotions which offer new bonuses every day, as well as regular slot tournaments and reel races featuring big prizes.
Jerry Land of SkillOnNet said in a statement to EuropeanGaming: “We are delighted to be launching PlayToro via the state-of-the-art SkillOnNet platform, making it one of the first casinos to go live in a range of core regulated markets this year.
“PlayToro offers players the same best-in-class experience that has seen the likes of PlayOJO, Slingo.com, and Turbonino become household names. PlayToro has the making of a truly great online casino, and we are thrilled to have been chosen to power the site.”
A spokesperson for PlayToro added: “SkillOnNet is the number one online casino platform and content provider and we are delighted to have partnered with the team for the launch of PlayToro, a new online casino that has what it takes to become a firm player favourite.
“PlayToro offers players a huge choice of slots and casino games, including live dealer, daily bonuses and promotions, a generous loyalty scheme, a huge range of payments, fast withdrawals and a dedicated customer support team which all comes together to provide a superior experience. I’d like to thank the SkillOnNet team for their assistance in bringing PlayToro to the market, and we look forward to a long and successful relationship together.”
The launch of PlayToro comes after the online casino operator announced the launch of its branded Masked Singer UK casino website which is based on the ITV reality show of the same name and launched at the end of December 2020 to coincide with the start of the show’s latest series.