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It is listed on theLondon Stock Exchangeand is a constituent of theFTSE 250 Index.

The company was founded byWilliam Hillin 1934 at a time when gambling was illegal in Britain.[5]It changed hands many times, being acquired bySears Holdingsin 1971,[6]then byGrand Metropolitanin 1988, then byBrent Walkerin 1989.[5]In September 1996, Brent Walker recouped 117m of the 685m it had paid for William Hill when Grand Metropolitan were found to have exaggerated the companys profits at the time of the sale.[7]

Japanesemounted a 700mleveraged buyoutof William Hill in 1997, when Brent Walker collapsed with debts exceeding 1.3bn[8]after an investigation by theSerious Fraud Officewhich saw two directors given prison sentences.[9][10]In February 1999, a proposedstock marketflotation was abandoned due to weak interest[11]andNomuraoffloaded the company to funds managed byandCVC Capital Partnersfor 825m instead.[5]

The company was eventually listed on theLondon Stock Exchangein 2002.[5]The following yearChief ExecutiveDavid Harding was awarded a 2.84m bonus, making him the UKs fifth highest paid company director in 2003.[12]It acquiredSunderland Greyhound Stadiumin 2002 andNewcastle Greyhound Stadiumin 2003.[5]In June 2004,Chief ExecutiveDavid Harding sold 5.2m of shares to fund his divorce, precipitating a decline in the companys stock that wiped 75m off the value of the company.[13][14]In 2005, William Hill bought 624 betting offices in the UK,Republic of IrelandIsle of ManandJerseyfrom Stanley Leisure for 504 million: the acquisition briefly took the company pastLadbrokesinto first position in the UK betting market[15]in terms of shops but not revenue. TheOffice of Fair Tradingmade William Hill sell 78 of the 624 Stanley shops due to concerns overanti-competitive practices.[16]

Amidst fears that William Hill had overpaid for the Stanley shops,[17]the company was relegated from theFTSE 100 Indexin December 2005.[18]In 2008, Ralph Topping was appointedChief Executive. After having dropped out ofStrathclyde Universityas a self-confessed rascal,[19]Topping had taken a Saturday job at a William Hill betting shop nearHampden ParkGlasgow, in 1973 and worked his way up through the ranks.[19]In November 2008, William Hill went into partnership with Orbis (latterly OpenBet), and Israeli software companyPlaytech, to remedy its own failing[20]online operation.[21]

Under the terms of the deal, William Hill paid Playtechs founderTeddy Sagi144.5m for various assets and affiliate[22]companies.[23]These included severalonline casinosites which William Hill continues to run under the name WHG.Playtechtook a 29% stake in the new William Hill Online entity.[21]The company wrote-off a reported 26m when scrapping their previous in-house system.[24][25]In June 2009 William Hill backedPlaytechdespite their partner having a quarter of its stock market value wiped out following a profits warning.[26]

The company operates worldwide, employing approximately 16,601 people with main offices in the UK,Republic of IrelandandGibraltar, offering betting by phone and Internet together with their 2300 UK-wide Licensed Betting Offices. They are the largest UK operator, representing around 25 per cent of the market throughout the UK and Ireland. Its telebetting call centres, which are located inRotherhamSouth Yorkshiretook 125,000 bets on the 2007,Grand Nationaland according to the company its betting shops process more than one million betting slips on an average day.[27]

In addition to its online sportsbook operations, the company offersonline casinogames, skill games,online bingoandonline poker. Since theGambling Act 2005,[28]gaming machineshave strengthened profits to counteract falling revenues in other areas.[29][30]In August 2010, William Hill launched a training programme for its 10,000+ workforce to combat underage gambling in its retail outlets.[31]

The company has been criticised by trade unionsCommunityandUnitefor its treatment of shop-workers.[32]In particular the practices of exposing staff to risk by forcing them to work in the offices alone,[32]and requiring staff to undertake unpaid work after the end of their working day have been identified.[33]

In November 2008, analysts atUBSnoted concern at the Companys level of debt,[34]which stood at over 1bn[35]and was later reported as 1.5bn.[36]In 2009 the company enacted both arights issueand acorporate bondissue, in an effort to restructure its debt.[35]

From 2001 until 2009, William Hill paidGeorge HowarthMP 30,000 pa. to act as a Parliamentary advisor. While on William Hills payroll he tabled amendments to the 2003budgetproposing tougher levels of taxation for person-to-personbetting exchanges.[37][38]Howarth left the role in the wake of the 2009expenses scandal.[39]In May 2015, William Hill presented prototype of Get In The Race – a virtual horse racing application.[40]On 2 August 2016, it acquired Grand Parade, the betting and gaming digital solutions company for 13.6m in cash and shares[41].

In 2018, William Hill was fined 6.2 million by theGambling Commissionfor systematic failures regarding anti-money laundering and problem gambling. The operator was found to have accepted large deposits of cash linked to criminal activity between 2014 and 2016, resulting in 1.2 million in financial gains. William Hill was ordered to return the 1.2 million profit, plus pay a penalty of 5 million for breaching regulations.[43]

In 2009, William Hill moved its online and fixed-odds games division toGibraltar, for tax avoidance purposes.[44][45]In Gibraltar William Hill is a member of theGibraltar Betting and Gaming Association.[46]

In March 2009, William Hill closed 14 of its shops in the Republic of Ireland with the loss of 53 jobs.[47]In February 2010 it announced that the remaining 36 Irish shops were under review[48]pending the possible introduction of controversialgaming machinesto Irish shops.[28]

William Hill had pulled out of Italy in 2008 after just two years, a failure which cost the company 1m in wasted investment.[49]The companys joint venture in Spain ended in January 2010 with partners Codere buying William Hills 50% stakeholding for €1,[50]after both parties had invested an initial €10m in April 2008.[51]William Hill lost 11.6m in 2008 and 9.3m in 2009 on the venture.[52]

In September 2009, the company participated in thebiddingfor the first online gambling licence in India, expressing their interest to enter the Indian betting market via the remoteHimalayanstate ofSikkim.[53]

In June 2012, William Hill expanded toNevada, the only U.S. state to allow full-fledged sports wagering,[54]buying three chains of sportsbooks: Luckys,Leroys, and the satellite operations ofClub Cal Neva, for a total of $53 million.[55]The deals at the time gave the company control of 55 percent of the states sportsbook locations, and 11 percent of statewide book revenue.[54]All three chains were to be rebranded under the William Hill name.[55]

In 2013, three Australian brands, Sportingbet, Centrebet and Tom Waterhouse, were purchased by the company[56]and later rebranded as William HillAustraliain 2015. Both Sportingbet and Centrebet were acquired in March of the year for $660m and $132m, respectively, while m was brought in during August 2013, for an initial $34m.[57]Tom Waterhousewas appointed Chief Executive Officer of William Hill Australia in July 2014.[58]

In March 2018, William Hill sanctioned the sale of its Australian business to Crownbet holdings for an estimated value of AU $300 million. The sale ended the companys time in Australia after entering the market in 2012.[59]

In 2007, William Hill threatened to withdraw its sponsorship of various horse races, in their dispute with racecourses over TurfTV.[60]William Hill, who had been the strongest critic of TurfTV, were later forced into a humiliating climbdown and subscribed to the channel in January 2008.[61]In August 2009, William Hill became the shirt-sponsor ofMlaga CF, a football team in SpainsLa Liga.[62]The company sponsors the annualWilliam Hill Sports Book of the Yearaward. This is dedicated to rewarding excellence in sports writing.[63]

In May 2008, TheAdvertising Standards Authority(ASA) banned William Hill from running a television advert which they found condoned gambling behaviour that was socially irresponsible.[64]In October 2009, the ASA banned a poster and National press advert which promised 100 OF FREE BETS. The advert was found to be likely to mislead and in breach of aCommittee of Advertising Practicecode relating to truthfulness.[65]

In March 2010, an advert stating William Hill best prices FACT was banned by the ASA. It had breached several Committee of Advertising Practice codes, including those relating to substantiation, truthfulness and honesty.[66]In September 2011, William Hill made a television advert featuring the 2005 singleA Bit Patchy.[67]In December 2012, adverts stating Best Prices on the Best Horses and Best Prices on the Best Teams were banned by the ASA. It had breached several Committee of Advertising Practice code, including those relating to misleading advertising, Substantiation and Comparisons. The ASA also banned a different advert claiming Best Odds Guaranteed because it was misleading.[68]

Richard Davenport-Hines, Clore, Sir Charles (19041979)


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Casino machines save Hill after web bets flop.

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Bowers, Simon (11 January 2008).William Hill to buy in technical experts to save internet arm.

King, Ian (21 July 2009).William Hill reassures after Playtech warning.

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William Hill Debuts Google Cardboard Horse Racing App.

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ASA Adjudication on William Hill Organisation Ltd. ASA

Companies listed on the London Stock Exchange

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