Contrasting Results for William Hill and Ladbrokes

While the pandemic has seen a rise in online gambling, it’s not been such a successful story for the betting shops. Ladbrokes and William Hill have both just published their year-end results and revenues at betting shops have seen big falls. All is not lost though due to online performances and new business partnerships.

The past year has been a stop-start one for betting shops. When open, they did try their best to take action against COVID-19. Many shops took part in the track and trace scheme, though not all.

However, the big problem they face at present is that the shops are not allowed to be open at all. That’s been the situation during each of the UK lockdowns and obviously has affected revenues. The Cheltenham Festival begins on March 16. The thought of that taking place with all the bookies shut is another horror of this ongoing pandemic.

The saviour has of course been online betting. Just what would have happened to the UK gambling industry without the internet would be a nightmare situation. At least their online gambling sites have allowed the companies to continue offering betting opportunities.

William Hill have reported a £29.5 million loss for their betting shop business. They had already been under financial pressure with a string of shops being closed. While their betting shop revenue has slumped, they have seen a rise of 3% in online revenues. Even so, the pre-tax profit for 2020 was only £9.1 million. That’s down an astonishing 91% on the previous year.

There may be some hope when the shops do re-open. When that happened last year, trading figures were close to pre-COVID levels. The hope is that will happen again when the betting shops do eventually re-open. A busy time during Euro 2020 would be handy for the bookmakers.

It could soon be all change at William Hill. US Casino Caesars are looking to take them over soon in a  £2.9 billion deal. William Hill is also making their presence felt in the expanding US Sportsbook industry.

At Ladbrokes, the situation isn’t quite so bad. They are owned by US company Entain and there has been a great deal of success in the past year, especially online and in America.  Entain are working with BetMGM and their online success is proving to be very profitable indeed. That’s compared to a revenue slump of 40% at their retail businesses. The diversity of their business has indeed worked well for them.

Ladbroke parent company reported that their pre-tax profits were £174.7 million. That’s a total turnaround from the loss made in 2019 with underlying profits up 2%   With more international expansion and the return of the High Street shops, the future looks bright.

“The strong underlying momentum within our business, the rapid growth of our US joint-venture, and our continuing international expansion mean that we are as confident as ever in the long-term prospects for Entain.”

It’ll be interesting to see how 2021 progresses for both companies. A year with their shops open and online expansion should see better figures being released this time next year.