In the four months to October 29, group revenue inched up 1%, pushed down by a 23% fall in retail following the closure of 700 UK shops, with the total estate at 1,600 locations now.
The government restricted to £2 the maximum stake allowed on electronic slot machines known as ‘fixed-odds betting terminals’ in April, giving the chills to the whole betting sector.
William Hill said gaming trends are now improving “incrementally” as customer behaviour adjusts to the new policy, adding the underlying results are consistent with existing guidance although it is “still too early” to spot a trend.
On the other side of the Atlantic, the US presence reached 10 states, with revenue trebling in new locations and rising 27% in Nevada.
Online revenue grew 26%, supported by UK gains consistent with the market, while international, which is a third of the total division, was hit by regulatory headwinds in Switzerland and disruption to payment methods in Europe.
“The performance from the online business was a little disappointing in our view, we expect this to have been broadly offset by the performance of its Nevada and UK retail operations, with the continued build-up in the wider US encouraging,” analysts at Shore Capital, which forecast full-year underlying earnings around £130mln, said in a note.
Shares fell early on Thursday morning but were soon flat at 179p.