BOOKMAKER William Hill said the Olympics and Paralympics caused punters to stay away from its betting shops in August.
But the London 2012 disappointment in its retail chain was offset by a good performance from football results, including a strong Euro 2012 in July, and a 42% surge in online earnings in the group’s third quarter.
William Hill, which tabled a proposed joint bid for rival Sportingbet earlier this week, reported a 26% rise in operating profits in the quarter to September 25. Its 2,379-strong retail arm saw operating profits rise 8% despite a poor horse racing season due to the record early summer rainfall and particularly quiet August amid the Olympics.
The group said amounts wagered fell 6%, but this was offset by a higher win margin.
Ralph Topping, chief executive of William Hill, said: “The Olympics and Paralympics captured the public’s attention, but appear to have reduced customer visits in retail.”
The update follows news on Tuesday that Paradise Poker firm Sportingbet is backing an increased takeover offer from William Hill and bid partner European gaming company GVC in a deal valuing the online firm at more than £400m.
William Hill – Britain’s biggest bookmaker – also announced a raft of changes at its internet arm as it confirmed it was considering taking full control of its online business.
It has the option to buy the 29% minority stake in William Hill Online owned by partner Playtech and said it would start the valuation process with a decision due early next year.