Technology boosts William Hill
By paul
William Hill, the bookie major said its 3,500 touch-screen roulette terminals were generating an average weekly profit of £400 each up from £380 last year. The group plans to install a further 500 terminals by the end of next month. The company said its roulette terminal installation programme would stop this year at 4,000. Analysts expect more than 40% of the amount wagered at William Hill shops in 2004 will be through the roulette machines.

The machines are expected to rake in £2.1 billion for the group in 2004, while traditional over-the-counter bets will touch £3 billion. Hill reported that gross win was up 22% this year with telephone and Internet betting all showing strong double-digit growth.

‘We are seeing that the amount bet on our group’s 1,600 outlets has almost doubled due to the popularity of the Roulette machines,’ said Chief Executive Officer David Harding.

British gamblers have lapped up the new machines as they offer a much better chance of winning than sports bets. To regulate the growth, the Gaming Board threatened to take bookmakers to court, claiming roulette outside of casinos was banned under the Gaming Act. In compliance, bookmakers agreed to use self-regulation to curb demand for roulette terminals and are now limiting installations to a maximum of four machines in each shop. The code also limits the speed at which roulette games are played.

Of course, Hill isn’t the only high street bookie to increase their stakes on Roulette. Even Ladbrokes and Coral have been racing to install roulette terminals across thousands of their outlets, to report strong revenues from Roulette. This would make roulette a more popular gamble than any other betting shop offering - including horse racing.

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