William Hill bookmakers are hit by punters in tough start to year
A bumper weekend for football punters has added to a tough start to the year for bookmaker William Hill as it gets to grips with new EU tax changes.
The company, which has 2,400 betting shops in the UK, reported "highly unfavourable" football results from last weekend, with Manchester City the only favourite to lose in the Premier League.
The introduction of a new European Union tax on online betting from January 1 will also cost it around £5m a year but William Hill said it was confident that it remains in a strong position going into 2015. Its annual operating profits for 2014 are set to beat expectations with a rise of 11% to £370m after a successful World Cup in which it took more than 462,000 bets via mobile devices during the competition.
The biggest betting event during the year was the Grand National, which turned over £25.7m in bets. The next three biggest events were the World Cup final, with £9.6m in bets, followed by the Netherlands v Argentina and Brazil v Germany semi-finals.
Over the year the business said its online revenues jumped 18%.