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William Hill first-half profit shrinks on poor soccer results

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William Hill first-half profit shrinks on poor soccer results

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(Reuters) – British bookmaker William Hill Plc <WMH.L> posted an 11 percent drop in first-half pretax profit as unfavourable soccer results hit margins despite a rise in revenue. William Hill, which in March named a new chief executive and a finance boss, said profit before interest and tax for the 26 weeks to June 27 fell to 109 million pounds ($144 million) from 122 million a year earlier. Revenue rose 3 percent to 837 million pounds. “We are confident about delivering a good outturn in 2017 and beyond.” William Hill said on Wednesday. Bookmakers in Britain suffered big payouts on favourites in a number of sports events in 2017. For example, 14 out of 15 of the best backed teams won on a busy midweek round of soccer fixtures on April 4. Financial results in the same period last year were boosted by the European soccer championship, held every four years. However, revenue from online channels – a key area for the company – were up 5 percent on strong wagering in the UK. Competition has intensified among gambling firms seeking to offset higher taxes and tighter regulation with a growing focus on fast-growing digital channels. Barclays analysts, in a client note, said the growth in online was driven by improvements in product and customer experience.

(Reporting by Rahul B in Bengaluru; editing by Jason Neely/Keith Weir)
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