The future looks bright for William Hill

UK bookmaker William Hill announced yesterday that its full-year profits for 2006 would meet market forecasts and pointed towards further international expansion.

"William Hill expects to announce profits before interest and taxation in line with the market consensus for the 52 weeks ended 26 December 2006," it said in a statement.

Although William Hill has not disclosed what those profits are set to be, analysts have estimated a figure of approximately £292 million. The expected profits of William Hill have been largely helped by takings from last summers World Cup and the acquisition of 500 betting shops from Stanley Leisure, raking in £17.5 million. As a result, shares rose by 16.5p to 639.5p.

After signing their recent partnership with Spanish slot machine operator Codere, William Hill also announced they would be applying for a sports betting licence in Madrid, where gambling laws have just become deregulated. They also have their eye on expanding in to Italy.

"The board is optimistic that the group will see further progress internationally, with the recent awards to our joint venture with Codere of 55 retail and two remote licences in Italy,” said a William Hill spokesman in a statement.

“In addition, the group and Codere are planning to apply for a sports betting licence in the region of Madrid which has recently issued regulations to allow sports betting,” the spokesman added.

Although their aspirations will be mostly targeted towards Spain, William Hill with Codere, will seek to grow their presence in Italy by opening a chain of betting shops and developing betting points in bars, cafes and newsagents. William Hill also alluded to establishing operations in Latin America where Codere also has a market presence.

2007 is predicted to be a difficult year for bookmakers, mainly because of the fact there is no major sporting event. However, with the introduction of the new Gambling Act in the UK later this year and their international strategy, William Hill looks well placed for the coming year.

Editor, - 2007-01-11 11:14:20

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