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William Hill has fallen into the red after it slashed the value of its struggling Australian business, which took a heavy toll on its bottom line.

The British bookmaker, which said last month it may sell its Aussie division after a political crackdown on gambling, said on Friday that it made a £75m pre-tax loss in 2017. This compared to a £181m pre-tax profit in 2016.

The group took a £238m impairment charge on its business down under to reflect the fact its accountants now believe the Australian business is worth less than the valuation it was previously held at.

In Australia, regulators have just banned credit-funded betting, while William Hill believes a rise in taxation is also on the way.

William Hill reported a 7 per cent rise in net revenues in 2017, to £1.7bn. It said it was growing market share in the UK in both betting shops and online. Its US revenues rose 29 per cent.

The group also said that its finances were doing well on an “underlying” basis, which excludes the problems in Australia and other one-off charges that included retrospective VAT payments in Germany and three other markets. On this underlying basis, pre-tax profits rose 19 per cent to £255m.

The final dividend increased by 6 per cent to 13.2p per share.

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