UK sportsbetting giant William Hill will shutter its online operations in Tel Aviv and lay off more than 200 of the 250 employees, to include the company’s offices at the Azrieli Towers, according to an update from online trading news portal LeapRate based on internal company sources.
Namely, sources at Will Hill informed that representatives from the UK bookmaker were meeting employees in Tel Aviv individually to explain that the company will be “consolidating” the online sector the Israel offices dealt with. According to reports, some of the local employees will be offered to relocate to either Will Hill’s main office in the UK or some of its other European locations like Krakow, or Gibraltar, while the majority of the workforce will likely be laid off.
The company reportedly decided to close down the offices due to economic reasons caused by growing real estate expenses, the increasing strength of the Israeli shekel, and the low rate of unemployment, all which have contributed to making the country a more expensive business location. Similar decisions have been reached by other tech companies in the area.
William Hill established the Israeli offices back in 2008 when William Hill Online was launched as a joint venture with Playtech. It was via that venture that most of the employees were transferred from Playtech to William Hill Online, along with some of Playtech’s assets. During the years, the relationship between both companies wasn’t very smooth and even lead to the walkout of 180 staff members from the Tel Aviv offices in 2011. The disagreements between both parties eventually resulted in Will Hill buying out Playtech’s 30% stake in the online business for £424 million in 2013.
In February this year, William Hill posted its 2016 financial performance report which showed a 3% decline in online revenues, year on year, saying that last year was a “challenging year” for the company, during which both its Playtech Casino business and online bingo performance suffered a drop in revenues.