Punters beat the bookies! William Hill hit by £20m profit shortfall for last quarter

Action from Liverpoool's 1-0 win over Manchester United last month. Fewer draws than usual early in the season is part of the reason punters are quids in
Action from Liverpoool's 1-0 win over Manchester United last month. Fewer draws than usual early in the season is part of the reason punters are quids in
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BOOKMAKER William Hill has revealed a £20m blow to profits after early season football results went the way of punters.

The chain, which has around 2,400 outlets, also blamed a quiet July for the disappointing third quarter performance, although it said demand picked up in August and September.

With fewer draws in the big football matches, William Hill said sporting results had not been as favourable as the same period a year earlier.

It said operating profits for the quarter to October 1 were down 31 per cent on a year ago, with the figure for the year-to-date down four per cent.

The warning comes a week after rival Ladbrokes said profits from digital operations will be more than £10m short of hopes in the current financial year.

Despite the poor quarter, William Hill said there was still time for it to recoup the shortfall should sporting results turn in its favour.

It is also encouraged by the staking levels and gaming machine performance in its shops in August and September, with football wagers in its retail estate up 27 per cent in the quarter.

Chief executive Ralph Topping said: “It is of course important in our business to look through the impact of short-term results on trading.”

This was reflected in the FTSE 100 company’s share price, which held firm despite the warning that quarterly profits were around £20m short of its expectations.