Global online gaming and sportsbetting giant William Hill has released its financial results for 2016 showing that “a challenging year” had produced a 1% increase year-on-year in net revenues to $1.99 billion while the firm’s adjusted operating profit had fallen by 10% to $325.94 million.

William Hill reported a 3% decline year-on-year in online revenues to $678.93 million for the twelve months to the end of December while overall costs in the vertical rose by 5% to push this sector’s operating profit down to $125.23 million. Conversely, online sports handle improved by 2% to $5.35 billion but a 0.5% dip in margins left the vertical’s revenues 2% lower at $336.53 million.

The London-based firm revealed an annual profit before interest and tax of $281.19 million, which was 1% higher year-on-year, despite a 4% decrease in online gaming revenues to $341.52 million due in part to the United Kingdom’s new automatic self-exclusion rules.

“[Last year] was a challenging year for William Hill but one in which we made considerable operational progress [to leave] us well-placed to drive the business forward in 2017,” read a statement from Philip Bowcock, Interim Chief Executive Officer for London-based  William Hill. “We have delivered extensive product, user experience and marketing improvements in online, modernized our retail management structure to focus more on the customer and continued to grow in our key international markets. There are now encouraging signs in all our divisions, in particular online’s United Kingdom business, which is now delivering sustained growth.”

William Hill explained that its in-house Vegas online casino products had recorded flat annual revenues of $208.53 million while takings from its Playtech Casino had fallen by 6% year-on-year to $100.96 million. Compounding these results, the company declared that its virtual bingo business continued to decline with a 14% drop in revenues to $24.92 million for the twelve-month period while its online poker offering recorded takings of $8.1 million, which represented a reduction of 37%.

However, the mobile sector increased its share of overall sportsbetting takings by 6% year-on-year to stand at 70% thanks in part to the launch of a “substantially improved” app in advance of last summer’s 2016 UEFA European Championship while the technology was now used for 53% of gaming revenues, which is a substantial improvement on the 41% recorded for 2015.

“Looking forward, we want to keep improving the customer experience,” read the statement from Bowcock. “This means making it fast and easy as well as enjoyable and personal to bet with William Hill. To do this, we are expanding our product range, increasing our marketing investment and deploying our technology assets and expertise in key areas. At the same time, we expect our transformation program to continue delivering important efficiency savings that we can reinvest to deliver an even better customer experience and faster growth. We have a clear strategy to take the business forward and grow market share in the United Kingdom while expanding our revenues internationally.”

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