William Hill announce losses of £37.6 million in 2019 in 'year of transition'

William Hill announced a loss before tax of £37.6 million for 2019 in their results on Wednesday morning.

The figure, which came “against a challenging regulatory backdrop” according to chief executive officer Ulrik Bengtsson, represented an improvement on Hills 2018 performance, when a loss of £722m was reported.

At 10am shares in Hills were down just over five per cent to 167.90p.

The results came in a year when the government reduced the maximum stake for fixed odds betting terminals (FOBTs) from £100 to £2, a policy implemented in April 2019.

In July, William Hill revealed plans to close 700 betting shops, and 713 were confirmed to have shut in 2019. The company's net debt increased to £535.7m following the purchase of Swedish gaming company Mr Green.

One of the biggest successes in 2019 came in the US, where net revenue rose 38 per cent. Hills also reported a market share of 24 per cent of the US sports betting market.

In April 2020 the government will implement a ban on online deposits with credit cards, and Hills expect the impact on adjusted operating profit to be "in the range of £5m to £10m".

Bengtsson said: "2019 was a year of transition during which we executed on our ambition to diversify internationally with the acquisition of Mr Green and the continued strong growth of our US business. The group delivered a strong operating performance, ahead of our expectations and against a challenging regulatory backdrop.

"We move into 2020 in a stronger position. Almost a quarter of revenue is now generated outside the UK, compared to 15 per cent in 2018.

"We made positive progress with our digital platform, launching our purpose-built platform in the US, and product developments in the online business in 2019.

"We will invest in our proprietary technology as we continue to improve the competitiveness of our customer offering. We have also made great progress embedding a culture of safer gambling across the group."

He added: "This is an exciting time to be William Hill's CEO. Our industry is evolving and this brings great opportunities, underlining the importance of our efforts to reposition the business. We look forward to building on these foundations with a renewed focus on customer, team and execution."