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William Hill profits grow as online investment pays off

William Hill profits grow as online investment pays off

Bookmaker William Hill (LON:WMH) boasted that it has the most popular sports betting app around after another impressive period of growth from mobile gaming.

The William Hill app has now been downloaded more than a million times since its launch 18 months ago, with 38% of sports bets placed from tablets or smartphones in the first half of the year.

The company has benefited from its focus on online betting as more punters opt to gamble on the go.

The digital business has been boosted by the recent acquisitions of Sportingbet for £459mln and Playtech’s 29% stake in William Hill Online for £424mln.

Stripping out these buys, pre-tax profits were 4% higher at £156mln. Online net revenue rose 18% to £234mln, helping overall net revenue climb 20% to £752mln.

However, shares fell 2.6% this morning as investors feared for the slowing online growth, having seen net revenue rise 21% in the first quarter.

“I am pleased with the extent of the strategic progress we have made in the last six months,” said chief executive Ralph Topping.

“Australia is a very attractive proposition and, since we assumed ownership, we are excited by the opportunity we see to develop William Hill Australia by improving our digital offer and targeting the recreational customer.

“Taking control of Online is giving us more freedom both to invest and to use that expertise across the group, including in Australia, where we have a team from Online helping to develop the proposition to compete more effectively. That work is ongoing and will be completed in early 2014.

“At the same time, we have continued the momentum in Online, particularly in mobile Sportsbook.

“The shift to mobile gaming is an important development and we have invested significant resources in getting the business fully prepared to accelerate this important opportunity. With almost 200% growth in mobile gaming net revenue in the first half, this decision is clearly justified.”

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