William Hill Investing in New Technolgies with Growth Bet

Betting company William Hill has reported an "outstanding" performance in its online division in its latest full-year financial report.

For the year ended 28 December 2010, William Hill Online delivered pre-tax profit of £91.1 million, up 22 per cent on 2009 (£74.4 million). This contributed to the group's overall pre-tax profit of £276.8 million, up seven per cent from £258.5 million the previous year.

Last year was only the second year of William Hill Online's operations, which was established as a joint venture in 2008 after combining the firm's Sportsbook-led interactive business with gaming assets acquired from Playtech Limited. Playtech owns 29 per cent of the joint venture, and William Hill the remaining 71 per cent.

The betting firm said its online growth was driven particularly by the expansion and enhancement of its sports-betting and in-play (allowing punters to bet during a match or event) offering.

"[Sportsbook] amounts wagered [online] increased 57 per cent year-on-year, including 114 per cent growth in in-play betting," William Hill said in its results.

During 2010, the company also launched the first of a series of apps for the iPhone and Android platforms, which includes Match Predictor and Shake-a-Bet apps in the App Store. It said that it had had 22,500 downloads of Shake-a-Bet, and 200,000 downloads of its Racing Post app.

It plans to continue investing in mobile, and in its trading platform, over the next year. For example, it hopes to launch SMS betting and an iPad app for its fixed-odds financial betting product, Day Trader.

Gareth Davies, chairman at William Hill, said: "We are continuing to expand our product offering and to invest in technology to enhance the customer experience, particularly in online."

"We are also using our trading capability to deliver differentiating pricing and offers. In online, we will build on the very encouraging developments in mobile betting and in-play, and will launch sites for some international targets in the coming months."

Furthermore, the company is currently trialling self-service sports-betting terminals in its retail shops to provide punters with a "wide array" of betting opportunities generated by its trading operations.

William Hill operates more than 8,800 gaming machines offering casino-style games, such as roulette and slots, in around 2,350 shops.

Prior to the acquisition of Playtech, in August 2008 William Hill reported problems with a legacy in-house betting platform that was making it difficult for the company to match its competitors online.

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