We are one of the world’s leading gambling companies. Millions of people enjoy betting with us every year.
Our brand, high street presence, product range, user experience and large-scale investment remain powerful drivers in this market. Our vision is to be the brand in everyone’s hand.
With compelling growth opportunities, we aim to grow our market share further by investing in digital and international expansion. And we are building a sustainable business by balancing our commercial priorities with our responsible gambling goals.
We have been listed on the London Stock Exchange (WMH.L) since 2002 and employ c16,000 people in eight territories: the UK, Gibraltar, Bulgaria, Spain, Italy, Poland, the Philippines, and the US.
Our business is comprised of three businesses: Retail, which operates land-based licensed betting offices in the UK; Online, which provides mobile and online betting and gaming services to customers in the UK, Europe and many other countries across to the world; and William Hill US, which operates mobile betting and land-based sports books in a number of US states, and provides risk management services to US sports lottery providers.
William Hill’s strategy is focused around three priorities:
- Driving digital growth in the UK and internationally;
- Growing a business of scale in the US; and
- Remodelling UK Retail.
This is underpinned by our approach to sustainability, framed around our ambition that nobody is harmed by gambling.
We have outlined ambitious growth targets that take account of both the near-term challenges and longer-term opportunities ahead for each of our three divisions. We will meaningfully reshape William Hill over the coming years, moving from a business that is predominantly UK-centric and land-based to being a leading gambling business that is digitally led, internationally diverse and sustainable.
Driving digital growth in the UK and internationally
Our ambition for Online is to build the world’s most trusted digital gambling brand and a business with greater scale, more geographic diversity and higher profit margins. The UK is our largest market and we will deliver an engaging and safe customer experience which will enable us to grow sustainably ahead of market growth rates and gain market share. We will also look to accelerate Online’s revenues by diversifying into faster growing international markets beyond the UK and the US, and in [January 2019] acquired Mr Green & Co AB (MRG) as part of this.
Overall, our target is to grow digital revenues to reach c£1bn (in constant currency) by 2023, representing a CAGR of c10%, and by increasing operational efficiency to double profits by 2023, representing a CAGR of c13%.
Growing a business of scale in the US
In May 2018, the Supreme Court of the US overturned the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act 1992, which had banned states from regulating sports betting. With this prohibition removed, the market is opening up across many states.
Market estimates suggest that the US could generate between $5bn and $19bn of sports betting revenues by 2023, depending on the speed and nature of state-by-state regulation. This is a major new market opportunity and one that we believe we are very well placed to pursue as we are the US’s leading sports betting company.
William Hill US already benefits from being supported by a successful and profitable Nevada operation. With these foundations already in place, our goal is to be the market leader and we intend to enter every state that regulates sports betting with mobile and/or land-based operations depending upon each state’s regulations. Our strategy is focused on market access, brand and operational excellence. Where regulations and partnerships allow, we will lead with the William Hill brand, and will use ‘powered by William Hill’ as a secondary brand approach.
Our ambition is to grow William Hill US’s EBITDA from c$50m from the US Existing business in 2018 to c$300m from the US Existing and US Expansion business in 2023. We expect our operations in new retail and tethered mobile states to become profitable within their first one to two years, supporting investment in brand, marketing and technology. Open mobile markets, which require greater investment in building our brand profile, will achieve profitability over a longer timeframe.
We are investing c$70m in a new proprietary William Hill US technology platform using proven components from inside the Group and from NeoGames. This modern, modular platform is designed to meet the flexibility needed for this market and to give us the best technology in the market during H1 2019.
Our Retail business is focused on addressing the challenges laid down by the Triennial Review decision, which will drive substantial structural change across the licensed betting office sector over the coming years. This will include product innovation to offer alternatives to B2 gaming, as well as remodelling the estate and the business. The implementation date has been announced as October 2019. As previously announced, we expect this change to reduce Retail’s profitability by £70-100m following mitigation measures, including c£15m of cost reductions. Based on the October implementation date, Retail’s Q4 2019 profits are likely to reduce by c£40m as mitigating actions will primarily be seen from 2020 onwards. Exceptional costs of remodelling Retail are expected to be c£40-60m.
Regulation and our marketplace
Gambling takes many forms and varies from country to country. The industry is made up of government-run operations, licensed monopolies or open commercial markets. In some countries, there is an outright ban on gambling.
The wide range of products available to consumers – including lotteries, sports betting, casino games, bingo and poker – are available in many different formats, from land-based clubs, pubs, casinos, betting shops and race tracks to online gambling. Land-based activities remain the format of choice for most gambling customers across all the leading countries by gambling revenues. Online gambling first started in earnest in 1998 while mobile gambling has become more prominent in the last five years with the advent of smartphone and tablet technology.
In many countries, gambling regulations were originally designed with land-based operations in mind. With the advent of digital gambling overcoming physical borders, governments are moving to update their regulations to take account of online and mobile gambling.
This is creating opportunities for companies – such as William Hill – who have built a successful digital business. It is particularly an advantage for those who have become successful in the UK market as the competitive intensity in this liberalised market has driven high levels of innovation that are proving attractive in other markets.
Public trust in gambling has meaningfully declined over the last five years. There are many concerns people raise, from TV advertising to exposing under 18s to gambling too early.
For many, the biggest concern is what companies like William Hill are doing to help those customers who are experiencing harm as a result of their gambling.
Around 430,000 people in the UK are classified as problem gamblers. Research from GambleAware estimates that two million people are at risk. And when gambling goes wrong, it doesn’t just damage one person – it also impacts their families, friends and communities.
Our ambition is that nobody is harmed by gambling. We’re focusing on four areas to deliver this:
- Support all customers to stay in control through how we design and market our products;
- Create new ways to identify people at risk and intervene effectively;
- Strengthen the system of support for those who do experience harm; and
- Empower our colleagues with the understanding and skills to make a difference.
For more about our approach to responsible gambling and sustainability, visit our Responsibility section. And read about our ambition that nobody is harmed by gambling.