As professional sports resume around the world, sportsbooks and oddsmakers have turned their attention to international football, baseball, and golf.
William Hill says the return of the Bundesliga, Germany’s premier football league, is an encouraging sign for the sports betting industry. The company noted in a trading statement released this past Friday, May 15, that international football accounts for approximately half of its online sportsbook business in the United Kingdom.
Despite the increased attention on niche international sports, there’s still a massive chunk of revenue missing from William Hill’s sports betting business.
Decrease in Amounts Wagered at Sportsbooks
William Hill currently operates in nine U.S. states: Delaware, Indiana, Iowa, Mississippi, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, Rhode Island, Washington, D.C., and West Virginia.
From March 11 to April 28, the total amount wagered at U.S. sportsbooks operated by William Hill decreased by 86% compared to the same period the previous year. In the United States alone, the company reported a 90% decrease in total net revenue.
Economic Woes Lead to Furloughs
The majority of William Hill employees who staff the company’s betting shops have been furloughed indefinitely during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The trading statement mentions that William Hill has also cancelled company bonuses, salary increases, and is deferring hiring to reduce staff costs. Dividend payments to investors have been suspended until further notice.
William Hill Online Casino Coming to U.S.
While the COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted business at William Hill’s retail sportsbooks, the company plans to accelerate growth in its internet gaming division by launching an online casino in the United States.
Pending regulatory approval, William Hill plans to debut its new online casino product during the second half of 2020. Reportedly the online casino will launch in the state of New Jersey first, and then the company will roll out the product to every state it has a license to operate in.
Ulrik Bengtsson, CEO of William Hill, commented in the report:
Our ambition to build a digitally led, internationally diverse business of scale is proving beneficial during the disruption as our international online business has performed very strongly. We have accelerated product developments in the US in particular to ensure we are well positioned when sports activity reopens.
William Hill recently set up drive-thru kiosks to service sportsbook clients in Nevada, as mobile wagering remains a top priority for the online gaming giant. The company is still seeing plenty of action via its app. Reportedly, sports bettors have found their interest piqued by table tennis and obscure international football matches.