Rise of the iPad gambler gives William Hill lift

A RAPID rise in people gambling from their phones and tablets propelled William Hill to a 20 per cent rise in profits last year.

The bookie said it had seen a 260 per cent increase in turnover from mobile gaming in 2012, leading the online business to grow operating profits by 36 per cent.

Chief executive Ralph Topping said he planned to continue this level of digital growth in 2013, boosted by the recent acquisition of online bookie Sportingbet’s Australian and Spanish businesses, and the expected purchase of Playtech’s 29 per cent stake in William Hill Online.

The company’s shares rose by 2.7 per cent yesterday, as it said group revenue had risen by 12 per cent. High street sales grew at a slower but still impressive six per cent.

William Hill said mobile gambling, which had been bolstered by the launch of a sports betting iPad app last year, now accounts for around a third of all online wagers.

“The fourth quarter delivered a strong end to an already good year in 2012,” Topping said. “Performance was robust in retail and profits continued to grow strongly in online, with sporting results going in our favour in both channels.

Unfancied outcomes, such as Chelsea’s Champions League victory and Encke’s 25-1 St Leger horseracing win, improved bookie profits in 2012.