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William Hill says bookmaking trends improving following mass shop closure

Gaming trends are now improving “incrementally” as customer behaviour adjusts to the new policy that pushed the company to close 700 UK shops

William Hill PLC - William Hill dips over slow revenue growth
“The performance from the online business was a little disappointing," said Shore Capital

William Hill PLC’s (LON:WMH) reported softer revenue growth as its UK bricks and mortar bookmaking shops cope with new legislation, offsetting faster growth online and in the USA.

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.

READ: Shares in bookmakers shudder as MPs call for new crackdown

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.

Quick facts: William Hill PLC

Price: 180.15 GBX

Market: LSE
Market Cap: £1.57 billion

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