William Hill's 2019 profit exceeds expectation despite challenging market

William Hill have released a strong set of results with 2019 profit of between £143-148 million exceeding expectation despite increasing market regulation.

The group's favourable full-year adjusted profit – defined as profit from continuing operations before interest and tax – was driven primarily by favourable sporting results at the end of last year.

Retail betting generated profit in excess of £70m despite the group being forced to close 700 betting shops last year in the wake of the stakes cut on fixed-odds betting terminals. 

The gaming division also performed ahead of expectations following the acquisition of online casino Mr Green last January.

The burgeoning US betting market was an area of strong growth for the group, who announced they now expect to break even in the territory having previously anticipated up to a £20m loss.

The betting industry continues to become an increasingly regulated sector in the UK, with online betting and advertising particular areas of concern for regulators. 

Recently, the Gambling Commission announced the possibility of banning betting using credit cards and a crack down on VIP customer schemes designed to foster relationships between bookmakers and high-volume bettors.

William Hill CEO Ulrik Bengtsson said: "The group has delivered a strong operating performance, ahead of our expectations and against a challenging regulatory backdrop.

"We made good progress on a number of fronts, including our retail business, online and in the US, enabling us to deliver on our long-term strategic ambitions. We look forward to building on these efforts in 2020 with a strong focus on customer, team and execution."

Elsewhere, William Hill announced the departure of chief financial officer Ruth Prior after her decision to enter the private equity sector.

Prior has been a senior figure at the group since 2017 and Bengtsson added: "I'm very appreciative of Ruth's support and professionalism since I took on the role as CEO.

"She has supported the business during what has been a period of unprecedented change for the sector and we would like to thank her for all she has done for William Hill."