|British land and virtual gambling operator William Hill has announced that a public gamble on which horse would win the Grand National earlier this month cost it almost $14 million and wiped out its profits for the rest of the three-day event.|
The company backed down on eventual winner Comply Or Die from earlier odds of eleven to one to make the horse the seven to one co-favourite on the day of the race. When the nine-year-old won, it represented the bookie's biggest loss for the first 16 weeks of the new financial year.
According to a piece in The Daily Telegraph newspaper, Ralph Topping, Chief Executive for William Hill, stated that the result was ‘an absolute stinker’ and stifled growth for over-the-counter gross wins to three percent for the period despite largely favourable results elsewhere.
'I watched the race with my Trading Director and I have never seen a man more nervous,' said Topping.
'He was down on his knees.'
However, gross win through the firm’s network of 2,250 shops rose seven percent for the period, boosted by a 16 percent rise from machine income as customers made the most of extended evening opening hours and new products such as blackjack. Topping stated that he has not seen any evidence of a consumer slowdown and dismissed fears over a regulatory crackdown on fixed-odds betting terminals.