(Reuters) – British bookmaker William Hill, which is being taken over by Caesars Entertainment Inc, posted a 91% fall in annual adjusted pre-tax profit on Thursday as it business struggled due to a lack of global sporting events and shop closures.
The company, which operates around 1,400 betting shops in the UK, reported an adjusted pre-tax profit of 9.1 million pounds ($12.71 million) for the year ended Dec. 29, compared with 96.5 million pounds a year earlier.
Online betting, however, has enjoyed a boost as coronavirus restrictions encouraged customers to bet more from home, with the company’s online net revenue rising 9%.
“We anticipate that the systemic and structural change in our customers’ behaviour will outlive the pandemic as they conduct more business and access more leisure activities online, and thus expanding our opportunities,” the company said.
It also said momentum built towards the end of 2020 in the United States has been sustained in the first weeks of 2021, with staking during the Superbowl nearly doubling compared with last year.
Its betting shops will reopen from April 12, Chief Executive Officer Ulrik Bengtsson told reporters on a call, in line with government guidance on the reopening of non-essential shops then.
Caesars last year agreed to buy the company for 2.9 billion pounds to expand in the fast growing sports-betting market, with the deal expected to complete in the second quarter of 2021 or as early as March.
($1 = 0.7162 pounds)
(Reporting by Tanishaa Nadkar in Bengaluru; Editing by Anil D’Silva)