Britain’s second largest bookmaker, William Hill, has announced its first-half earnings for the year revealing profits were down by ten percent to $287.3 million, which was in line with its expectations.
The Leeds and London-based firm revealed that it had lost out to more winning punters in the last few weeks while the decline also reflected the costs associated with signing up to buy Turf TV's live horseracing feeds alongside a 'disappointing' performance from its telephone division.
However, the firm revealed that it had seen little evidence of the business being impacted by the economic downturn so far with gross wins increasing by four percent for the year to $1.02 billion despite a one percent fall for July.
“The business has significantly changed since the 1990s,” said Ralph Topping, Chief Executive Officer for William Hill.
“We've got a wider geographical spread. Back then we were over-weighted in London and the South East. Since then, our development has been more focused on the provinces.”
Topping also revealed that the firm had registered its interest in buying parts of State-owned bookmaker, The Tote. He stated that the group had expressed this interest to Goldman Sachs, the US investment bank appointed by the British Government to examine options for the business.
“We met with Goldman Sachs to register an interest as part of the process,” said Topping.
“If they were going to break up the business to get the best price, we'd be looking for some 'in-fill' outlets, in places where we aren't geographically represented at the moment.”
Last month, the British Government said it has begun preparations for a possible sale of the business on the open market in the autumn but competition laws would preclude William Hill from acquiring the business outright. Topping did not reveal how many of The Tote's 540 shops William Hill would be interested in.