Business

William Hill profits boosted by online betting

Cheltenham Festival 2013
Image caption Bookmakers had a poor Cheltenham Festival

William Hill said a strong performance in online betting helped to boost its first quarter operating profits by 8%.

More sporting bets were made online than in its betting shops, with an increasing number placed through its mobile apps.

The company said that although it had a poor Cheltenham Festival, it had better luck in the Champions League.

It was the first time no English football team had been in the quarter finals since 1996.

As such, while the amount paid out to winning bets at the Cheltenham Festival was higher, the money punters placed on English teams to progress to the Champions League quarter finals and beyond all went into William Hill's coffers.

The firm said it had also enjoyed its best-ever result in a Grand National, which was won by the 66-1 outsider Auroras Encore.

"It has been a successful start to 2013 in trading terms", said chief executive Ralph Topping.

"Having grown our UK online market share from 10% to 15% over the last four years, we aim to increase our share and are making significant investments in marketing, technology and people to achieve that," he added.

On Monday, rival bookmaker Ladbrokes warned that trading had been worse than expected in the first three months of the year.

The firm blamed a drop in profits from the Cheltenham Festival and lower revenues from high value gamblers. It added that a high number of cancelled meetings, because of the harsh winter, had also affected its results.

Richard Hunter, head of equities at Hargreaves Lansdown Stockbrokers, said: "William Hill's performance and prospects are in stark contrast to the difficulties currently being faced at Ladbrokes.

"There are, of course, headwinds, such as the fierceness of competition in the sector and the generally pressed consumer, but these are challenges which the whole industry is facing," he added.

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