Bookmaker William Hill reports €820m loss

By Wale Azeez, business reporter
The UK government's decision to cut the maximum stake on fixed odds betting terminals hit William Hill hard in its half-year period, as the bookmaker swung to a pretax loss of ?820m.
Britain's biggest independent bookmaker's results were knocked by €915.9m in exceptional charges and adjustments, which included an €882.8m impairment charge on its retail operations.
That was linked to the UK Government's decision to reduce the maximum stake on fixed-odds betting terminals (FOBTs) from €100 to €2, in a regulatory change which William Hill said was "unprecedented".The company said: "Its impact on customer behaviour will not be known until some years after implementation but we currently estimate this could reduce the retail division's annualised adjusted operating profit following mitigation measures by between €70m and €100m."William Hill reported a bottom line pre-tax loss of €819.6m for the six months to June, against a profit of €93.1m during the same period last year.Group net revenue rose 3% to €802.6m.
Bookmaker William Hill reports €820m loss

The maximum stake on fixed-odds terminals was cut to ?2
The remaining exceptional charges included restructuring costs from its turnaround programme.The results sent shares down more than 9% in morning trading.Betting companies were up in arms when the government announced its intentions around FOBTs in May.Sky News previously reported on William Hill chairman Roger Devlin's warning to ministers that slashing maximum bets on gaming machines would leave the betting group vulnerable to takeover by an overseas rival.
Mr Devlin also highlighted the risk to tens of thousands of jobs across the gambling sector over the FOBTs stake cut.Rival Betfred, which owns The Tote, said it would axe more than 4,500 jobs if the government slashed maximum stakes on gambling machines.The bookmaker also told ministers that almost 900 of its own shops would become loss-making overnight if the reforms went ahead.Betting firms such as William Hill are taking advantage of the recent ruling by the US Supreme Court which struck down a federal law - the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992 (PASPA) - which had banned gambling on individual sporting events.:: UK bookies win share surge on US sports betting ruling"In the US, we have moved quickly following the repeal of PASPA as we grow into newly regulating states."We will continue to invest in the US to ensure we are well-placed to capture the substantial potential available to us."
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William Hill said it has signed deals with 11 casinos in Mississippi and one casino in West Virginia to run sports books and plans to take the first sports bet in Mississippi in August.Other UK betting operators mobilising to take advantage of the law change include Ladbrokes and Coral owner GVC, which recently struck up a joint venture with MGM Resorts.
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