The effects of Covid-19 on the economy are going to be felt long-term, with many businesses being forced to rely on government assistance to get through the foreseeable future.
The gambling industry has certainly felt the effects of the Coronavirus after hundreds of land-based betting shops were forced to close their doors to customers after the government imposed a lockdown period.
Revenue is still being made by those who own online gambling products, but those with shops are suffering most. William Hill are one of those said bookmakers, having reported a 57% year-on-year decline in net revenue during the seven weeks to 28 April.
In the first 10 weeks of the year leading up to March 11 and the initial outbreak of the virus, the company reported an overall 5% drop in revenue, as well as a 24% drop in gaming revenue and a flat return in sportsbook revenue. That said, total online revenue did increase by 16%, with international online revenue rising by 35%.
William Hill have taken advantage of the furlough scheme to help pay all of their laid off staff during lockdown, topping up the remaining 20% of their salaries out of their own pocket to ensure all staff members receive their full wage.
“William Hill has overcome many challenges in its 86-year history, and I am exceptionally proud of the team and their response to the Covid-19 pandemic,” chief executive Ulrik Bengtsson said. “We have worked hard to protect them, and in turn they have done the same for our customers.
“We reacted quickly to the cancellation of sports activities and the closure of our retail estate. We took immediate measures to save costs, reduce cash outflow and minimise non-essential expenditure by negotiating with our suppliers, cancelling pay rises and executive bonuses and suspending the dividend.
“We have preserved liquidity and amended the terms of our net debt covenant, leading to significant, balance sheet headroom. This will enable us to continue to invest for growth, most notably in the US, as plans there to roll out sports betting continue apace.
“We remain focused on player safety employing ever more customer protection. We are taking care of our teams, securing as many employment opportunities as possible and we are ready to power up the business as soon as Covid-19 restrictions permit.”
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