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William Hill and Ladbrokes hit by betting shops closures

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Oscar Williams-Grut
·Senior City Correspondent, Yahoo Finance UK
·2-min read
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William Hill shop branding
William Hill's betting shop business slumped to a £29.5m loss, largely offsetting growth of 3% in online revenues. The group made a pre-tax profit of just £9.1m in 2020 as a result, down 91% on 2019. Photo: Getty

Bookmakers Ladbrokes and William Hill (WMH.L) reported slumping revenues at their betting shops on Thursday due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The rival bookmakers published contrasting sets of full-year results on Thursday, with William Hill suffering a slump in profits while Ladbrokes managed to grow earning. Both saw sales at their betting shops slump as the pandemic forced them close and led to the cancellation of live sports.

William Hill's betting shop business slumped to a £29.5m loss, largely offsetting growth of 3% in online revenues. The group made a pre-tax profit of just £9.1m in 2020 as a result, down 91% on 2019.

"Retail has undergone regional disruption although where stores did re-open, they quickly traded towards pre-COVID levels," chief executive Ulrik Bengtsson said. He pointed to strong growing in online and said the company's strategy was "bearing fruit."

Ladbrokes, meanwhile, fared better thanks to its US joint venture. Entain (ENT.L), Ladbrokes parent company, reported a pre-tax profit of £174.7m compared to a loss in 2019. Underlying profits rose by 2%.

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Entain was boosted by online gambling and better-than-expected growth at its US joint venture with MGM (MGM), BetMGM. These business lines helped to offset a revenue slump of 40% at Entain's retail business.

"Today's results demonstrate the extraordinary resilience and professionalism of our people, as well as the importance of having a truly diversified business model that is not overly reliant on any one product, brand, territory, or channel," said chief executive Jette Nygaard-Andersen, who took over Entain in January.

"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."

Shares in Entain slipped 1.8% in early trade in London, while William Hill was flat.

William Hill is in the process of being taken over by US casino giant Caesars (CZR) in a £2.9bn deal. Bengtsson said the company was "well-positioned for its future under new ownership".

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