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William Hill Profits Drop by 91% Due to Covid-19 Crisis

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William Hill Profits Drop by 91% Due to Covid-19 Crisis
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William Hill has reported that its annual profits dropped by 91% after the pandemic forced the closure of its betting shops and saw live sports events cancelled. The group saw underlying pre-tax profits slump to £9.1m in 2020 from £96.5m in 2019.

Its betting shops were hit hard by repeated lockdowns and restrictions, with the retail arm slumping to a £29.5m loss as like-for-like revenues plunged 30%. William Hill’s online business delivered a 3% rise in earnings to £121.9m, but this was not enough to offset the retail woes.

Ulrik Bengtsson, CEO of William Hill, said: “In what was an extraordinary year I am immensely proud of how the group has responded and the resilience we have seen in our performance.

“We prioritised the protection and safety of both our colleagues and our customers, and our employees went above and beyond for which I thank them.

“In 2020 we put our strategic plans firmly into action, diversifying our geographical footprint, expanding our team’s capabilities and rebuilding our technology.

“We are embedding proprietary components across the platform architecture and are delivering a constant flow of new features including faster product experience, improved navigation and greater protection to our customers around the world.

“The performance in the second half is clear testimony that our strategy is bearing fruit. In the UK, the competitive position of our online offerings for both gaming and sports has been materially strengthened, and our omni-channel product is delivering encouraging early results.

“Retail has undergone regional disruption although where stores did re-open, they quickly traded towards pre-Covid levels.

“We are delighted with our international online performance, where our investment in our product and technology is producing clear benefits, particularly in light of the regulatory headwinds in Germany and temporary restrictions elsewhere.

“We will continue to benefit from our agile marketing engine, and the recent agreement to acquire Alfabet S.A.S. in Colombia and our licence in Argentina both offer further promising growth opportunities in Latin America.”

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MiFinity enable N1 Interactive’s payment expansion

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MiFinity, the secure iGaming eWallet, today announced a new partnership with online casino operator N1 Interactive Limited. The MiFinity eWallet will now be available as a payment method for customers in some of N1 Interactive’s European markets across 37 brands.

As one of the most popular casino brands on the market, N1 Interactive offers a wide range of payment methods for players in different regions. MiFinity will be working with N1 Interactive to help increase conversions by providing players with their preferred payment method via the MiFinity eWallet.

Paul Kavanagh, CEO at MiFinity, said: “We have considerable experience in N1 Interactive’s key European markets, providing customers with localised payment methods via our eWallet. With over 40 integrated payment methods, we can significantly reduce the risk of a player abandoning the cashier across all N1 Interactive’s live brands.”

N1 Interactive added: “We’ve onboarded MiFinity because they offer a wide range of local payment methods in our target markets, as well as having an in-depth understanding of these markets. With their support, we can provide better service to our players and streamline the payment journey, increasing conversions and removing transaction barriers.”

With the MiFinity iFrame, brands like Casino Universe, Slot Hunter Casino and N1 Casino can provide players with the option to use their MiFinity eWallet within the cashier experience. Once players have signed up for a MiFinity eWallet, they can choose their preferred local payment method to transfer funds. Then, players simply select the MiFinity option directly in the cashier for deposits and withdrawals when playing online.

Paul Kavanagh said: “Removing unnecessary steps in the payment journey, such as navigating to a 3rd party payment page, positively impacts conversion rates. Similarly, providing players with localised payment methods, multiple currencies, and multilingual options reduces the risk of cart abandonment. Our iFrame does all this within the brand’s cashier, providing a seamless customer experience.”

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ACMA Blocks Illegal Offshore Gambling and Affiliate Marketing Websites

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The ACMA has requested that Australian internet service providers (ISPs) block more illegal offshore gambling and affiliate marketing websites.

The sites include Casino Moons, Winnerama, Extra Vegas, Win Paradise, LegitGamblingSites and Gamblers Lab.

The ACMA investigated and found these services to be operating in breach of the Interactive Gambling Act 2001.

Website blocking is one of a range of enforcement options to protect Australians against illegal online gambling. Since the ACMA made its first blocking request in November 2019, 568 illegal gambling and affiliate websites have been blocked.

Over 170 illegal services have also pulled out of the Australian market since the ACMA started enforcing new illegal offshore gambling rules in 2017.

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Compliance Updates

Entain to Pay £17M Penalty for Online and Retail Failures

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Entain, the global sports betting, gaming and interactive entertainment Group, has confirmed that it has agreed a regulatory settlement with the UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) in respect of alleged historical licensing breaches. The regulatory settlement amounts to £14m in respect of Entain’s digital business and £3m in respect of its retail business.

Entain has entered into the regulatory settlement with the UKGC in order to bring the matter to a close and avoid further costly and protracted legal proceedings. Entain accepts that certain legacy systems and processes supporting the operations of its British business during 2019 and 2020 were not in line with the evolving regulatory expectations of the UKGC in respect to aspects of social responsibility and anti-money laundering (AML) safeguards. However, the Group also notes the UKGC’s statement that it found no evidence whatsoever of criminal spend within Entain’s operations.

The issues raised by the Commission relate to the period between December 2019 and October 2020, which predates the many changes in the area of safer gambling and AML that Entain has introduced. For instance, in 2021 Entain launched its Advanced Responsibility and Care (ARC) programme which, using revolutionary AI technology, operates in real-time and is individually tailored for each customer. The initial trials of ARC in the UK have shown a risk assessment accuracy of over 80%, a 120% uplift in the use of safer gambling tools by those most at risk and a 30% overall reduction in customers increasing their risk levels.

Furthermore, in May of this year, Entain was awarded the Advanced Safer Gambling Standard by GamCare, having evidenced the highest standards of player protection and social responsibility for its online and land-based gambling businesses in Great Britain.

As part of the settlement, Entain has also agreed to appoint a Board sponsor to oversee the implementation of any further improvements identified by the original 2020 compliance assessments and to undertake an independent audit of the relevant policies and procedures at a future date.

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