The U.S poker community may be cavorting around like a set of headless chickens, but here in the U.K. it seems we are doing rather nicely. William Hill, one of Britain’s top bookmakers, has reported a sixteen percent increase in their revenue. This pans out to a very positive result for the first quarter of 2011, although what makes the result all the more remarkable is this statistic relates to William Hill’s online poker room alone.
It may come as a surprise to some, given that at this time last year the William Hill online poker room announced were down by eleven percent. The overall net revenue, covering all forms of gambling for William Hill’s online business, was up fifteen percent. The fastest growing segment was online bingo.
Given the disastrous events of last Friday, a great number of players in the UK, and around the world, immediately withdrew their funds from the likes of PokerStars, Full Tilt and Absolute Poker. Many British players have also reported that they are moving to home turf, UK-based online gambling spots, saying that they feel “safer” than when embroiled with the giants; many of whom are still caught in the vice of American Justice.
William Hill itself was founded in Britain back in 1934, at a time when gambling was still illegal. They have grown to include worldwide operations, now employing around 16,600 people with offices in the UK, Republic of Ireland and Gibraltar. They offer betting by phone, internet and through their Licensed Betting Offices; 2300 of which are spread throughout the UK.
In 2005 William Hill bought 624 Betting Offices in the Isle of Man, Jersey, and Republic of Ireland, meaning the company surpassed Ladbrokes as number one in the UK betting market. Ralph Topping was appointed Chief executive in 2008, a University of Strathclyde drop-out who had taken a Saturday job at William Hill in 1973 and worked his way up the ranks.
It seems the collapse of the American poker market might be about to push the British bookie’s star even higher.