Doncaster race festival in 2017

One year since the US repealed a federal ban on sports betting, William Hill, the British bookmaker, hailed its growth in the US market as it looked to offset declining online revenue at home mainly due to stricter regulation.

The FTSE 250 gambling group has doubled the sports wagering it handles in the US since the repeal of the ban on sports betting on May 14 last year, it said in a trading update on Wednesday. Net revenue in that region increased by almost a half.

However, the group said that overall gaming revenue was down 15 per cent due to the impact of a cut in the maximum stake to the electronic slot machines known as fixed-odd betting terminals in the UK. Online net revenue in William Hill’s domestic market fell 8 per cent, the update said.

British high street bookmakers have set their sights abroad as the Gambling Commission seeks to increase regulation of the industry.

The watchdog has issued nearly £20m in fines to betting companies since November, including a £4.5m fine to four online casino companies for failing to prevent money laundering, which it announced on Wednesday.

William Hill said that online revenues rose 8 per cent thanks to its acquisition of Swedish online gaming business Mr Green, which it completed in January, but that this was offset by greater customer due diligence costs.

The company, which previously suggested that the cut to the FOBT stake from £100 to £2 could result in the closure of 900 shops, confirmed that the impact of the law was “in line with our expectations” but it added that it was “likely to be several months before any meaningful conclusions can be drawn”.

William Hill is the only British bookmaker to have secured licences in all of the US states that have legalised sports betting since the federal ban was repealed, including Iowa, which put in place legislation this week.

Chief executive Philip Bowcock said: “Online continues to show good momentum as we focus on growing our mass market customer base, while retail has begun to adapt to the new £2 machine gaming stake limit.”

He said the company had seen record performance during the US Super Bowl and that it expected to enter further states soon.

The group’s shares dropped 0.7 per cent in early London trading on Wednesday.

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