William Hill 888 owner expects no further impact from game record fine

Online gambling is down, but an increase in the number of low-spending gamers has offset lower revenue from high-spending gamers. The Cheltenham Festival took the number of active players to a new all-time high for bets per minute, results from 2022 and a 2023 trading update from parent company 888 showed.

By Sarah Taaffe-Maguire, economic journalist @taaffems

Friday, April 14, 2023 2:24 p.m., United Kingdom

Owner of British gambling brand William Hill has said profits will rise and there will be no further impact from the record fine imposed on him by the UK gambling regulator money last month.

888 Holdings said there would be “no further expected impact on our UK operations or revenue guidance from the settlement between the Gambling Commission and William Hill announced on March 28, 2023 regarding historic player safety breaches,” in its fiscal year 2022 results and a business update for the first three months of 2023.

Despite the £92million fine, imposed for breaches of corporate social responsibility and anti-money laundering, profits are “expected to be significantly higher year-on-year”.

Pre-tax profit for the 2022 financial year exceeded £217.9 million. But profit margins have been partially weighed down by investments in online gambler safety measures in the UK.

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888 added that more than 500,000 third-party financial vulnerability checks were carried out in the UK in 2022.

“Significant corrective action has put the group in a much stronger position from a compliance perspective,” the announcement reads.

The company said it believes “significant investment” in safer gambling “puts us well ahead” of upcoming UK gambling regulations.

A very late government gambling white paper should be released later this month.

Last year, investment in enhanced safety measures for players in the UK led to a 15% drop in online revenue, but this was offset by the return of in-person gambling after the pandemic .

William Hill fined £19.2m

In the first three months of this year, 888 said their revenue declined due to, among other things, the continued impact of Safer Play changes in the UK. This was partially offset by the return of retail gambling and business performance in Spain and Italy.

Online gambling with the company fell 9% in the first three months of 2023, and while spender gambler revenues fell, this was offset by the growing number of spender gamblers.

William Hill had been fined by the Gambling Commission for allowing certain customers to open accounts and spend tens of thousands of pounds within minutes or hours.

This year there has been ‘strong growth in the number of active players’ and a ‘particularly strong’ Cheltenham Festival where active players grew by 15% to hit a new all-time high in bets per minute, the owner said by William Hill.

The appetite for gambling regulations has grown and the Premier League on Thursday announced a ban on clubs having game sponsorship on the front of their game shirts.

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Eight Premier League clubs currently have gaming companies as shirt sponsors, worth an estimated £60m each year.

888 Holdings also said it was well positioned for the outcome of the government’s review of its legislation, the UK Gambling Act. It said it has lowered action thresholds, increased accessibility controls and lowered maximum bet limit slots.

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