Bookmaker William Hill has announced a drop in operating profit of 22% for 2015, blaming gambling taxes imposed on its UK online and retail businesses.
The company reported operating profits of £291.4m for last year, down from £372.2m in 2014. It said additional gambling duties of £87m resulted in the slump.
“In profit terms, 2015 was always going to be a challenging year as the group faced substantial additional gambling taxes on its UK online and retail businesses, and group operating profit declined 22% to £291.4m,” it said.
The bookmaker announced a share buyback of £200m over the next 12 months. The dividend was increased by 2.5% despite falls in profits. It also committed to paying all employees the national living wage of £7.20 an hour from 1 April.
William Hill warned last October that its annual profits would range near the bottom of forecasts after poor sports results – too many favourites winning races – affected retail businesses in the UK, the US and Australia. The company is the largest bookmaker in the UK with 2,370 betting shops.
Revenues were down by 1% to £1.59bn in 2015 as there was no major football tournament during the year as well as the poor sports results, said the company.
Last year saw significant regulatory and taxation changes in the gambling industry. The government introduced a point of consumption tax in December 2014, as well as increasing the duty on machine games from 20% to 25%.
All bets placed online in the UK are now subject to the 15% point of consumption tax, which is expected to raise £300m a year for the Treasury.
Source: The Guardian