William Hill shutters 119 UK betting shops

William Hill is shutting the doors on 119 gaming shops in the UK in a move that’s meant to mitigate the train-wreck damage of the COVID-19-infected world economy. The company is actually in pretty good shape considering the global pandemic and its impact on any gambling operator with land-based exposure.

Part of William Hill’s long-term plans, before the pandemic, was to increase its US-facing operations and emphasize online betting over in-person betting. The UK Gambling Commission’s newfound interest in the marketing techniques of UK operators is like the motivator behind the US strategy. And, after all, the US is wide-open territory for established operators like William Hill that have a good reputation and a reliable track record.

Of course the shuttering of 119 betting shops means that a lot of people who worked in those shops are going to have be redeployed within the company or furloughed.

In a recent call to the press, as reported on by Reuters, Chief Executive Ulrik Bengtsson appeared confident as he spoke of doing business in the US during the pandemic saying, “It’s hard to deny that we are already in the second wave in the U.S. to some extent … as long as major sport events are back, we are quite confident of how this business is going to develop.”

He went on to laud the company for even pulling a profit during the pandemic noting, “It has probably been the most difficult circumstances of my and many of my colleagues’ professional lives to guide the company through all this. Coming out the way we did and actually making a small profit in the period is incredible.”

Though revenue has been down slightly at William Hill this year, they’ve seen nothing like the 97 percent revenue drops that most land-based casinos are reporting.