William Hill (bookmaker)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

William Hill
Company typeSubsidiary
FounderWilliam Hill
HeadquartersLondon, England
Key people
ProductsSports betting, online casino, online poker, online bingo
Number of employees
12,000 (2021)[1]
Parent888 Holdings
WebsiteOfficial website Edit this at Wikidata

William Hill is a British gambling company founded in 1934. Its product offering includes sports betting, online casino, online poker, and online bingo. Business operations are led from its headquarters in London. The company was previously listed on the London Stock Exchange until it was acquired by Caesars Entertainment in April 2021. In July 2022, William Hill was subsequently acquired by 888 Holdings for £2.2 billion.


The company was founded by William Hill in 1934.[2] It changed hands many times, being acquired by Sears Holdings in 1971,[3] then by Grand Metropolitan in 1988, then by Brent Walker in 1989.[4] In September 1996, Brent Walker recouped £117m of the £685m it had paid for William Hill when Grand Metropolitan were found to have exaggerated the company's profits at the time of the sale.[5]

Japanese investment bank Nomura mounted a £700m leveraged buyout of William Hill in 1997.[6] In February 1999, a proposed stock market flotation was abandoned due to "weak interest"[7] and Nomura sold the company to funds managed by private equity firms Cinven and CVC Capital Partners for £825m instead.[2]

The company was eventually listed on the London Stock Exchange in 2002.[2] The following year Chief Executive David Harding was awarded a £2.84m bonus, making him the UK's fifth highest paid company director in 2003.[8] It acquired Sunderland Greyhound Stadium in 2002 and Newcastle Greyhound Stadium in 2003.[2] In June 2004, Chief Executive David Harding sold £5.2m of shares to fund his divorce, precipitating a decline in the company's stock that wiped £75 million off the value of the company.[9][10] In 2005, William Hill bought 624 betting offices in the UK, Republic of Ireland, Isle of Man and Jersey from Stanley Leisure for £504 million: the acquisition briefly took the company past Ladbrokes into first position in the UK betting market[11] in terms of shops but not revenue. The Office of Fair Trading made William Hill sell 78 of the 624 Stanley shops due to concerns over anti-competitive practices.[12]

In November 2008, William Hill went into partnership with Orbis (latterly OpenBet), and Israeli software company Playtech, to remedy its own failing online operation.[13][14] The same month, analysts at UBS noted "concern" at the company's level of debt,[15] which stood at over £1 billion[16] and was later reported as £1.5 billion.[17] In 2009, the company enacted both a rights issue and a corporate bond issue, in an effort to restructure its debt.[16]

From 2001 until 2009, William Hill paid George Howarth, a Member of Parliament, £30,000 to act as a Parliamentary advisor. While on William Hill's payroll he tabled amendments to the 2003 budget proposing tougher levels of taxation for person-to-person betting exchanges.[18][19] Howarth left the role in the wake of the 2009 expenses scandal.[20]

Under the terms of the deal, William Hill paid Playtech's founder Teddy Sagi £144.5 million for various assets and affiliate companies.[21][22] These included several online casino sites which William Hill continues to run under the name WHG. Playtech took a 29% stake in the new William Hill Online entity.[14] The company wrote-off a reported £26m when scrapping their previous in-house system.[23] In June 2009 William Hill backed Playtech despite their partner having a quarter of its stock market value wiped out following a profits warning.[24]

In 2013, William Hill paid £424 million ($643 million) for full control of its online business marking an accelerated expansion and resulted in the dissolution of the partnership with Playtech.[25] In May 2015, William Hill presented prototype of "Get In The Race" – a virtual horse racing application.[26] On 2 August 2016, it acquired Grand Parade, the betting and gaming digital solutions company for £13.6 million in cash and shares.[27]

In 2018, William Hill was fined £6.2 million by the Gambling Commission for systematic failures regarding anti-money laundering and problem gambling. The operator was found to have accepted large deposits of cash linked to criminal activity between 2014 and 2016, resulting in £1.2 million in financial gains. William Hill was ordered to return the £1.2 million profit, plus pay a penalty of £5 million for breaching regulations.[28]

On 7 January 2019, William Hill received regulatory approval to conclude its purchase of Mr Green for £242 million.[29] On 17 July 2020, William Hill raised £224 million in a new ordinary share rights issue to provide a timely capital boost during the COVID-19 pandemic.[30] In August 2020, as a result of the economic effects caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the company announced that it would close 119 shops permanently. Despite that, only 16 employees would lose their job positions, while the others would be assigned to new positions. It also announced that the firm would be merging its retail and online operations.[31]

On 30 September 2020, William Hill agreed to a £2.9 billion takeover bid by Caesars Entertainment, the Nevada-based casino operator. The deal was unanimously recommended by the UK company's directors. It came after two rival bids by the US private equity group Apollo were turned down.[32][33] In April 2021, Caesars completed its acquisition of William Hill and the company was delisted from the London Stock Exchange.[34][35]

As Caesars was interested only in William Hill's industry expertise and its US operations, the European business was put up for sale, attracting bids from 888 Holdings, Apollo, and CVC.[36] In September 2021, Caesars agreed to sell the European business to 888 Holdings for £2.2 billion.[36][37] However, in July 2022, 888 reduced its offer to £1.95 billion and this was accepted.[38] The sale was completed in July 2022.[39]

On 28 March 2023, the UK Gambling Commission ordered three William Hill Group companies - WHG (International) Limited, Mr Green Limited, and William Hill Organization Limited - to pay a record £19.2 million for social responsibility and anti-money laundering failures. Commenting on the penalty package, Andrew Rhodes, Gambling Commission chief executive, said: "When we launched this investigation the failings we uncovered were so widespread and alarming serious consideration was given to licence suspension. However, because the operator immediately recognised their failings and worked with us to swiftly implement improvements, we instead opted for the largest enforcement payment in our history."[40]

UK operations[edit]

A William Hill betting shop in Tottenham, London in 2020

William Hill employs approximately 12,000 people, 8,000 of them in the UK.[41] The company operates 1,414 betting shops.[42]

In addition to its online sportsbook operations, the company offers online casino games, skill games, online bingo and online poker. Since the Gambling Act 2005,[43] gaming machines have strengthened profits to counteract falling revenues in other areas.[44][45] In 2009, the company moved its online betting operations to Gibraltar to reduce its taxes by millions of pounds.[46]

In August 2010, William Hill launched a training programme for its 10,000+ workforce to combat underage gambling in its retail outlets.[47]

In 2019, William Hill became a founding member of the Betting and Gaming Council.[48] In July 2019, William Hill announced it was closing 700 betting shops, saying this was because of the decision three months before to reduce the maximum stake on fixed-odds betting terminals to £2.[49] In August 2020, the company said it would close a further 119 shops that were not profitable during the COVID-19 pandemic. At the same time, the company returned £24.5 million in furlough funds it had received from the government.[50]

The company confirmed in 2018 that UK operations will continue to be managed from Gibraltar.[51]

Outside the United Kingdom[edit]

In March 2009, William Hill closed 14 of its shops in the Republic of Ireland with the loss of 53 jobs.[52] In February 2010 it announced that the remaining 36 Irish shops were "under review"[53] pending the possible introduction of controversial gaming machines to Irish shops.[43] In 2011, William Hill sold its remaining betting shops in Ireland to BoyleSports because of what a William Hill employee described as "the restrictive nature" of the laws governing retail betting in Ireland.[54]

William Hill had pulled out of Italy in 2008 after just two years, a failure which cost the company £1m in wasted investment.[55] The company's joint venture in Spain ended in January 2010 with partners Codere buying William Hill's 50% stakeholding for €1,[56] after both parties had invested an initial €10 million in April 2008.[57] William Hill lost £11.6m in 2008 and £9.3m in 2009 on the venture.[58]

In June 2012, William Hill expanded to Nevada, the only U.S. state that then allowed full-fledged sports wagering,[59] buying three chains of sportsbooks: Lucky's, Leroy's, and the satellite operations of Club Cal Neva, for a total of $53 million.[60] The deals at the time gave the company control of 55 per cent of the state's sportsbook locations, and 11 per cent of statewide book revenue.[59] All three chains were to be rebranded under the William Hill name.[60]

In 2013, three Australian brands, Sportingbet, Centrebet and Tom Waterhouse, were purchased by the company[61] and later rebranded as William Hill Australia in 2015. Both Sportingbet and Centrebet were acquired in March of the year for $660m and $132m, respectively, while tomwaterhouse.com was brought in during August 2013, for an initial $34m.[62] Tom Waterhouse was appointed Chief Executive Officer of William Hill Australia in July 2014.[63]

In March 2018, William Hill sanctioned the sale of its Australian business to CrownBet holdings for an estimated value of AU $300 million. The sale ended the company's time in Australia after entering the market in 2012.[64] In preparation for Brexit, in June 2018, William Hill announced that it is opening a new satellite office in Malta.[51]

Following the decision of the US Supreme Court regarding the case of Murphy v. National Collegiate Athletic Association in June 2018, the state of New Jersey effectively legalised gambling on athletic events due to a previously successful state ballot initiative. William Hill entered arrangements to provide bookmaking services to both Monmouth Park Racetrack and Ocean Resort Casino in the state of New Jersey.[65]

On 3 August 2020, the bookmaker opened the first full-service betting operation housing professional sports teams in the U.S. at Capitol One Arena in Washington D.C.[66]

In January 2021, a joint venture between William Hill and Argenbingo received a licence to offer online gambling services in the Argentinean province of Buenos Aires.[67] On 5 May 2021, William Hill launched in Colombia following the acquisition of a majority stake in Alfabet.[68]


In 2007, William Hill threatened to withdraw its sponsorship of various horse races, in their dispute with racecourses over TurfTV.[69] William Hill, who had been the strongest critic of TurfTV, were later forced into a humiliating climbdown and subscribed to the channel in January 2008.[70]

Away from horse racing, William Hill has sponsored many other sporting events, including the Scottish Cup from 2011 to 2020,[71] and the PDC World Darts Championship from 2015 to 2022. The company also sponsors the annual William Hill Sports Book of the Year award, dedicated to rewarding excellence in sports writing.[72]


In May 2008, The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) banned William Hill from running a television advert which they found "condoned gambling behaviour that was socially irresponsible".[73] In October 2009, the ASA banned a poster and National press advert which promised "£100 OF FREE BETS". The advert was found to be "likely to mislead" and in breach of a Committee of Advertising Practice code relating to "truthfulness".[74]

In March 2010, an advert stating "William Hill best prices FACT" was banned by the ASA. It had breached several Committee of Advertising Practice codes, including those relating to "substantiation", "truthfulness" and "honesty".[75] In September 2011, William Hill made a television advert featuring the 2005 single "A Bit Patchy".[76] In December 2012, adverts stating "Best Prices on the Best Horses" and "Best Prices on the Best Teams" were banned by the ASA. It had breached several Committee of Advertising Practice code, including those relating to "misleading advertising", "Substantiation" and "Comparisons". The ASA also banned a different advert claiming "Best Odds Guaranteed" because it was misleading.[77]

In June 2021, William Hill launched its new master brand. As part of the relaunch, the company launched a new TV advert featuring their brand ambassadors Tony McCoy, Robbie Savage, Rio Ferdinand and Jermaine Jenas and used the Neil Diamond song Sweet Caroline.[78]


Scientific papers dealing with the statistics of sports betting mention that William Hill blocks customers or limits their stakes if William Hill gets the impression that they may try to benefit from arbitrage.[79][80]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "William Hill today". William Hill. Retrieved 3 March 2021.
  2. ^ a b c d "William Hill: History". Archived from the original on 18 July 2011.
  3. ^ Davenport-Hines, Richard (23 September 2004). "Clore, Sir Charles (1904–1979), businessman". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online ed.). Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/30943. ISBN 978-0-19-861412-8. Retrieved 1 December 2021. (Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
  4. ^ Stan, Hey (4 April 2008). "Our national love affair: a history of the betting shop". The Independent. Retrieved 1 December 2021.
  5. ^ "BRENT WALKER RECOUPS POUNDS 117M FROM BETTING STAKE OF SEVEN YEARS AGO", The Observer, London, 29 September 1996
  6. ^ "Nomura to Buy William Hill, U.K.'s 2nd-Largest Bookmaker". Wall Street Journal. 12 October 1997. ISSN 0099-9660. Retrieved 1 December 2021.
  7. ^ "BOOKIE CITY PLAN FALLS AT FINAL HURDLE", Sunday Mirror, London, 21 February 1999
  8. ^ Business & Media: Business: Top 10 highest paid directors, The Observer, London, 1 February 2004
  9. ^ Milner, Mark (6 July 2004). "Wm Hill defends statement timing as shares fall again". The Guardian. Retrieved 4 December 2021.
  10. ^ Mesure, Susie (10 June 2004). "William Hill chief blames divorce for £5m stake sale that knocks". The Independent. Retrieved 4 December 2021.
  11. ^ "William Hill buys Stanley shops". BBC News. 16 May 2005. Retrieved 4 December 2021.
  12. ^ Wallop, Harry (3 August 2005). "William Hill ordered to sell 78 shops". The Daily Telegraph. London. Retrieved 12 April 2010.
  13. ^ Lea, Robert (12 April 2012). "Casino machines save Hill after web bets flop". Evening Standard. Retrieved 5 December 2021.
  14. ^ a b Thompson, James (20 October 2008). "William Hill in deal with Playtech to expand online gaming operation". The Independent. Retrieved 5 December 2021.
  15. ^ Fletcher, Nick (20 November 2008). "Investors bet on bookies, but bad debt worries hit IG". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 12 April 2010.
  16. ^ a b Harrington, Ben (5 November 2009). "William Hill to launch £250m high yield bond". The Daily Telegraph. London. Retrieved 12 April 2010.
  17. ^ William Hill; INSIDE THE CITY, The Sunday Times, London, 2 August 2009
  18. ^ "MP acting as bookies' lackey is a disgrace", The Telegraph, London, 19 May 2003
  19. ^ "MP ACCUSED ON BET LAWS", Daily Echo, Liverpool, 26 May 2003
  20. ^ "MP quits bookmaker job ahead of crackdown; Private earnings under spotlight", Daily Post, Liverpool, 29 June 2009
  21. ^ "Match of the day latest". Football and other sports. Retrieved 19 March 2015.
  22. ^ "Interview: Henry Birch, William Hill Online". eGaming Review. Archived from the original on 11 June 2010. Retrieved 14 April 2010.
  23. ^ Bowers, Simon (11 January 2008). "William Hill to buy in technical experts to save internet arm". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 12 April 2010.
  24. ^ King, Ian (21 July 2009). "William Hill reassures after Playtech warning". The Times. London. Retrieved 12 April 2010.
  25. ^ "William Hill buys out partner Playtech". Financial Times. Archived from the original on 11 December 2022. Retrieved 12 November 2015.
  26. ^ "William Hill Debuts Google Cardboard Horse Racing App". Casino News Daily. 11 May 2015. Retrieved 4 December 2021.
  27. ^ "Regulatory news". William Hill Plc. Retrieved 14 June 2017.
  28. ^ "William Hill fined £6.2m by Gambling Commission". The Guardian. 20 February 2018. Retrieved 21 February 2018.
  29. ^ "William Hill gains regulatory approval for MRG acquisition". I Gaming Business. London. 7 January 2019. Retrieved 12 April 2019.
  30. ^ "William Hill reveals Covid-19 revenue impact amid £224m share capital issue boost". I Gaming Business. London. 17 July 2020. Retrieved 17 July 2020.
  31. ^ Hancock, Alice (5 August 2020). "William Hill shuts another 119 stores as more punters shift online". Financial Times. Archived from the original on 11 December 2022. Retrieved 5 August 2020.
  32. ^ "Caesars owner strikes £2.9bn William Hill deal". BBC News. 30 September 2020. Retrieved 30 September 2020.
  33. ^ Jolly, Jasper (30 September 2020). "US casino operator Caesars agrees £2.9bn William Hill takeover". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 30 September 2020.
  34. ^ "Caesars Entertainment Announces Completion of William Hill PLC Acquisition". MarketWatch (Press release). 22 April 2021.
  35. ^ "William Hill: Delisting and Cancellation of Shares". London Stock Exchange. 23 April 2021. Retrieved 22 April 2021.
  36. ^ a b Rob Davies (9 September 2021). "Gambling firm 888 buys William Hill International in £2.2bn deal". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 18 January 2023.
  37. ^ Colton Lochhead (9 September 2021). "Caesars selling William Hill non-U.S. assets in $3B deal". Las Vegas Review-Journal. Retrieved 25 September 2021.
  38. ^ "888 cuts price of William Hill takeover by £250 million". Evening Standard. Retrieved 18 January 2023.
  39. ^ Bill Barber (1 July 2022). "888 completes £2bn William Hill acquisition to form 'powerful' global business". Racing Post. Retrieved 18 January 2023.
  40. ^ "William Hill Group businesses to pay record £19.2m for failures". Gambling Commission. 28 March 2023. Retrieved 28 March 2023.
  41. ^ "888 pays £2.2bn for William Hill's non-US assets including UK betting shops". Sky News. Retrieved 4 December 2021.
  42. ^ "William Hill betting shops locator". Retrieved 25 April 2017.
  43. ^ a b Lister, Sam (7 February 2009). "High-stakes gambling machines causing serious addiction". The Times. London. Retrieved 13 April 2010.
  44. ^ William Hill 'satisfied' with business, Yorkshire Post, Leeds, 24 April 2008
  45. ^ Sibun, Jonathan (28 February 2008). "William Hill unfazed by gaming review". The Telegraph. London. Retrieved 13 April 2010.
  46. ^ Goodman, Matthew (2 August 2009). "William Hill set to move internet betting to Gibraltar". The Times. ISSN 0140-0460. Retrieved 4 December 2021.
  47. ^ "Staff at William Hill train to avert underage gambling". Archived from the original on 14 August 2011. Retrieved 22 October 2010.
  48. ^ "BGC Members". BGC. London. Retrieved 1 August 2021.
  49. ^ "William Hill plans 700 store closures putting 4,500 jobs at risk". BBC News. 4 July 2019. Retrieved 5 December 2021.
  50. ^ Barber, Bill (5 August 2020). "William Hill to close 119 shops but will repay £24.5m furlough funds". Racing Post. Retrieved 5 December 2021.
  51. ^ a b "Ulrik Bengtsson confirms William Hill's Malta opening". SBC News. 4 June 2018. Retrieved 6 January 2022.
  52. ^ "William Hill to close 14 betting shops in Republic". Irish Times. 2 February 2009. Retrieved 14 April 2010.
  53. ^ "William Hill waits for details on State's gambling reform". Irish Times. 2 February 2010. Retrieved 14 April 2010.
  54. ^ "Boylesports buys 15 William Hill shops". RTE. 3 November 2011. Retrieved 6 January 2022.
  55. ^ "Italian gamble a loser for Hills". London Evening Standard. Retrieved 12 April 2010.
  56. ^ "Sale of Spain joint venture". William Hill. Archived from the original on 18 July 2011. Retrieved 14 April 2010.
  57. ^ "William Hill PLC – Re Joint Venture". William Hill. Archived from the original on 18 July 2011. Retrieved 14 April 2010.
  58. ^ "Annual Online Report" (PDF). William Hill. Archived from the original (PDF) on 26 August 2011. Retrieved 21 April 2010.
  59. ^ a b Velotta, Richard N. (21 June 2012). "British oddsmaker William Hill gets OK to operate 159 books in Nevada". Vegas Inc. Retrieved 28 June 2012.
  60. ^ a b Green, Steve (28 June 2012). "William Hill, Affinity in long-term sports betting deal". Vegas Inc. Retrieved 28 June 2012.
  61. ^ "William Hill: Acquisition". Archived from the original on 12 July 2015. Retrieved 9 July 2015.
  62. ^ "Brands axed as William Hill launches in Australia". AdNews.
  63. ^ William Hill: Tom Waterhouse Archived 10 July 2015 at the Wayback Machine
  64. ^ "William Hill sells Australian business to CrownBet". 6 March 2018. Retrieved 8 March 2018.
  65. ^ "William Hill opens New Jersey's First Sports Book". National Football Post. 14 June 2018. Retrieved 9 January 2019.
  66. ^ "Capital One Arena sets sports betting precedent by opening in-venue sportsbook". SportBusiness. 2 August 2020. Retrieved 14 August 2020.
  67. ^ "William Hill waits for details on State's gambling reform". Info Play. 3 January 2021. Retrieved 4 January 2021.
  68. ^ "William Hill launches in Colombia following Alfabet acquisition". IGaming Business. 25 May 2021. Retrieved 25 May 2021.
  69. ^ Paley, Tony (26 March 2007). "Bookmakers threaten sponsorship cuts as betting shop row escalates". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 14 June 2010.
  70. ^ "William Hill deal with TurfTV a case of history repeating as punter power wins day". The Scotsman. Retrieved 14 June 2010.
  71. ^ "The reason William Hill are ending their Scottish Cup sponsorship revealed as SFA line up new backer". daily Record. 21 February 2020. Retrieved 21 February 2020.
  72. ^ "Sports Book Of The Year 2016". William Hill. Retrieved 7 June 2016.
  73. ^ "ASA Adjudication on William Hill (Gibraltar) Ltd". ASA. Archived from the original on 9 January 2010. Retrieved 13 April 2010.
  74. ^ "ASA Adjudication on William Hill Organisation Ltd". ASA. Archived from the original on 8 January 2010. Retrieved 13 April 2010.
  75. ^ "ASA Adjudication on William Hill Organisation Ltd". ASA. Archived from the original on 23 March 2010. Retrieved 13 April 2010.
  76. ^ William Hill Football betting New Season TV Advert 2011 / 2012, archived from the original on 11 December 2012, retrieved 15 December 2015
  77. ^ "ASA Adjudication on William Hill Organisation Ltd". ASA. Retrieved 5 January 2013.
  78. ^ "William Hill celebrates passion for sport with new campaign". campaignlive.co.uk. Retrieved 10 June 2021.
  79. ^ Franck, Egon; Verbeek, Erwin; Nüesch, Stephan. "Inter‐market Arbitrage in Betting". Economica. 80 (318): 300–325. doi:10.1111/ecca.12009. ISSN 0013-0427.
  80. ^ Schwartz, Avery Joseph (2016). "Arbitrage in the European Soccer Betting Market" (PDF). New Haven, Connecticut: Yale University.

External links[edit]