The owner of British gambling brand William Hill has said profit is to rise and there is to be no further impact from the record fine it was issued by the UK gambling regulator last month.
888 Holdings has said there is to be “No further expected impact on our UK operations or revenue expectations arising from the settlement between the Gambling Commission and William Hill announced on 28 March 2023 in relation to historic player safety failings”, in its financial year 2022 results and a trading update for the first three months of 2023.
Despite the £92m fine, issued for social responsibility and anti-money laundering failures, profit is expected “to be significantly higher year on year”.
Pre-tax profit for the 2022 financial year topped £217.9m. But profit margins were weighed down partially by investment in online player safety measures in the UK.
888 added there were more than 500,000 third-party financial vulnerability checks carried out in the UK in 2022.
“Significant remedial actions have put the group in a far stronger position from a compliance perspective,” the announcement said.
The company said it believed “significant investments” in safer gambling “positions us well ahead” of upcoming UK gambling regulation.
Last year investment in UK enhanced player safety measures resulted in a 15% decline in online revenue but this was made up for by the return of in-person retail gambling after the pandemic.
For the first three months of this year 888 said revenue declined due to, among other things, the ongoing impact of safer gambling changes in the UK. This was partially offset by the return of retail gambling and company performance in Spain and Italy.
Online gambling with the company dropped 9% in the first three months of 2023 and while revenue from high-spending players fell that was offset by the growing number of low-spending players.
William Hill had been fined by the Gambling Commission for allowing some customers to open accounts and spend tens of thousands of pounds in a matter of minutes or hours.
This year there has been “strong growth in active players”, and a “particularly strong” Cheltenham Festival where active players rose 15% to a new all-time-high for bets per minute, the William Hill owner said.
Appetite for gambling regulation has increased and on Thursday the Premier League announced a ban on clubs from having gambling sponsorship on the front of their match-day shirts.
Eight Premier League clubs currently have gambling companies as shirt-front sponsors, worth an estimated value of £60m each year.
888 Holdings also said it is well positioned for the outcome of the government’s review of its legislation, the UK Gambling Act. It said it has lowered thresholds for intervention, increased affordability checks and lowered the max stake limits slots.