William Hill, UK bookmaker, though still looking to raise over £200m through a new share issue to help fuel that recovery, it is said to have enjoyed a “strong recovery” from its COVID-19 nadir. Hills issued a trading update on Tuesday, spanning the six weeks through June 9, saying group revenue was down by 50% from the same period in 2019. Hills reported it is better than the 57% decline reported in weeks 11-17 of this year when the pandemic was first reported.
While overall online gambling was down only 3% year-on-year in weeks 18-23, retail operations were apparently affected by the shutdown of Hills’ entire UK real estate, compared to a 21% decline in weeks 11-17. Online International revenue (+7%) partially offset a weak showing by Online UK (-8%) as with Hills’ Q1 performance. The closure of land-based casinos in the US and the pandemic-related halt of major sports left revenue down 62%.
Hills also reported that its online operations had improved significantly because of the resumption of Germany’s Bundesliga football and UK horseracing. On the other hand, activity has remained “high” for those wacky alternative sports on which punters were forced to wager during the mainstream sports halt. This week’s hotly-anticipated return of English Premier League action has made Hills happy. They are also pinning similar hopes on the National Basketball Association, making good on its plan to resume play with a 22-team format.
Hills claims it has cut costs so ruthlessly that it is in a good position to ride out any disappointments though acknowledged that many of its plans hinge on events beyond its control. They are expecting a nine-figure financial windfall sometime in H2. This can be attributed to the UK taxman’s recent decision not to appeal a ruling on the value-added tax being mistakenly applied to fixed-odds betting terminals.
Hills is also planning a new share issue to retail and institutional investors representing nearly one-fifth of its issued share capital.