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Chris Sieroty

William Hill betting big on Las Vegas

31 October 2011

LAS VEGAS, Nevada -- British bookmaker William Hill PLC has bet more than $53 million on the U.S. market, buying three Nevada sports betting companies in the last year.

A bet William Hill expects to cash in by the end of the second quarter of 2012.

"Initial reviews of the business have been undertaken and further meetings with the Nevada Gaming Commission are planned for the coming months," the company said Thursday in its third-quarter interim management statement.

On April 14, William Hill purchased American Wagering Inc., parent company of Leroy's Horse & Sports Place, for $18 million, along with Club Cal Neva Satellite Race and Sports book division in Northern Nevada for $21 million.

That was followed on May 3 with the $15.7 million purchase of Brandywine Bookmaking LLC, which operates Lucky's sports books.

"The acquisition of three land-based sports-betting businesses in (Nevada) is conditional on the granting of local regulatory licenses," the company said. "The process is expected to complete in 2012."

William Hill reported Thursday that revenue growth slowed in the third quarter as the company faced comparisons to last year's figures, which were boosted by soccer's World Cup.

William Hill, which operates some 2,350 betting shops in the United Kingdom, said net revenue grew by 2 percent in the quarter and by 5 percent in the year to date.

Retail revenue decreased by 3 percent during the third quarter and was flat in the year to date. Group operating profit was 22 percent lower in the third quarter, reflecting the impact of the World Cup and favorable British soccer results last year.

In the year to date, the company's operating profit was down 3 percent.

"We have delivered a solid performance in (the) third quarter, in spite of a highly competitive market place and a tough consumer environment," William Hill CEO Ralph Topping said.

The company said it was on track to meet market expectations for the full year. Analysts expect William Hill to report 2012 earnings of $436.3 million.

"With our leading brand, strong technology, differentiated products and understanding of our consumer, we have a unique opportunity right now to invest to take market share," Topping said.
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