William Hill CEO talks about 50-50 split between foreign and UK revenue
After William Hill’s 2019 reports that suggested a downfall in the revenue by 2 percent, Gambling Insider talked to Urlik Bengtsson (the CEO).
Following William Hill’s report, the first thing that had got to me was the differences between foreign and the UK. You had mentioned that approx 1/4th revenue of the company came from outside the country as compared to 15% for 2018. Now, what percent do you plan on achieving in the coming quarters?
As far as our online business is concerned, it is 35% actually. To be precise, we don’t have a specific percentage or a number in mind. As of now, our goal is to grow and diversify.
What do you think about the 50-50 split in the coming years? Do you see that happening or is it too soon to say that?
Considering the current rate of growth in the US, it doesn’t seem unreasonable. Last year, our company had added a billion-dollar in gambling in the United States. Considering our international business growth, I don’t find it unreasonable.
You said that approx 24% (on a national scale) market share in the country and one in every four bettors are contributed by William Hill. However, does William Hill have any specific plan to beat the current competitors such as DraftKings and FanDuel?
I don’t think anyone has the resources and power to match the whopping 24 percent in the United States. Sure, that differs from state to state. But, I still don’t believe any company could go up to 24% countrywide.
Regulatory headwinds have definitely had a major impact on the results generated last year. You also mentioned that restrictions on credit card use can result in a fall in the deposit rates by a small percentage. Have you prepared anything for such restrictions? What are the future concerns concerning a possible online betting limit in the United Kingdom?
I believe that regulatory changes are part of our country. As far as these changes are concerned, it isn’t anything new. Moreover, we believe that we have given our best performance for the past 1-2 years in terms of customer protection, age verification, due diligence, source of funds, and more. We have implemented a proper, secure, and valid gambling algorithm.
These factors are something one can’t practice in the retail outlet or a brick and mortar store. It is only possible when you are dealing online. That being said, it doesn’t really affect our goals or anything for that matter.
Considering that it has been an extraordinary year for the retail sector, what exactly are the results you anticipate for 2020?
The former CFO, Ruth gave an estimate of £60-70. The figure suggests a minor upgrade from £50-70 that we had given earlier.
Does that recommend support at these outcomes compared to the possibilities of what could have happened specifically considering the fixed odd gambling restrictions?
The £2 betting limit imposed by the government resulted in a 30% decline in our gambling industry. It led to a loss of £70m approx of EBIT. That being said, it has happened to be painful and quite a huge project for our team. However, we did it pretty well. In the end, we performed comparatively better than we had imagined.
You had said your plan on technology investment; can people assume that such investments will take you to any more acquisitions in the coming years? We’ve all seen how DraftKings acquired SBTech and it turned out to be the significant news in the US.
As of now, we are concentrating on operational performance, competitiveness, and customer team. Currently, this is all we are focused on right now including the elements and resources we will be operating on to expand the business in the US.
Does this make M & A not a big thing to concentrate on for William Hill?
Currently, our only focus is on operating within the group, though we do consider such things on merit.
Having worked as the CEO of the company for the past few months, how do you feel has this role changed your confidence? What are your views on the future performance of the company and how exactly do you think it needs to be directed?
I have contributed two years of my life to William Hill. During these years, I have seen and experienced a lot. I feel I got a clear picture of where and how the company needs to improve. As of now, we have a wonderful team with our company being in a brilliant position. But, we also realize that there still are certain challenges coming our way. We need to be extra careful while making decisions.