William Hill's profit race up by 27 percent
By maddy
Bookmaking major William Hill had good news for analysts and shareholders alike. The gambling company exceeded expectations with a 27 percent increase in profits to £101.9m (€145.6m) for the six months to July 1.

Hill, which operates 1581 betting shops, attributed the success to World Cup betting and favorable horse racing results. It converted a 2002 interim pre-tax loss of £12.2m (€17.4m) into a profit of £85.6m (€122.3m).

The betting group as a part of its Q4 strategy is diversifying from horse racing by starting off new virtual greyhound racing and the increased rollout of Fixed Odds Betting terminals (FOBT).

The controversial FOBTs allow customers to place bets on the outcome of spins of virtual roulette wheels, currently under the scrutiny of the Gaming Board since critics say they are similar to those in casinos. William Hill currently has 2525 FOBT’s installed i.e. 95 percent of its outlets have at least one terminal installed.

The company’s gross win (the success it has with punters) showed positive growth in its retail, telephone and interactive gambling operations despite damp results at Cheltenham Festival. Its Internet website had a gross win leap 32 per cent with 'exceptionally strong' growth in its online casino, thanks to a new online poker game.

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