William Hill upbeat on full year

City A.M. Reporter
Britain's biggest bookmaker William Hill said it was confident for the full year after posting a 21 per cent jump in first quarter operating profit led by demand for its onling gambling sites.

The company, which has around 2,350 betting shops in the UK and Ireland, said it had also seen increased amounts wagered in its over-the-counter business and through gaming machines.

William Hill, which takes over a million bets a day, said the strong performance resulted in group net revenue being up by 11 per cent, with retail revenues up eight per cent and online net revenues up 26 per cent.

"We have seen excellent growth across our business in the first quarter, enabling us to remain confident in our expectations for the full year," chief executive Ralph Topping said in a statement.

William Hill said it had seen an over-the-counter gross win margin above the top end of the expected trading range of 17 to 18 per cent.

Rival Ladbrokes said earlier in April operating profit rose by 1.9 per cent to £49.2m in the first quarter but warned of an uncertain outlook with the economic climate in Britain set to remaining challenging throughout 2011.

Last week, William Hill said it would move into the US gaming market for the first time after agreeing to buy two American sports betting businesses for $39m.