William Hill has anticipated an increase in its overall online performance by four per cent during Q3 as online international gaming and US operations continue to be a key focus.

Publishing its trading update for the 13 week period to 29 September 2020, William Hill noted a robust group-wide performance as a result of the return of live sport – which was accelerated by the reopening of its retail estates.

Along with the expected overall online performance growth, William Hill expects its UK online activity to grow by four per cent and international by six per cent. This expected growth has been attributed to their increasing availability of a more ‘competitive product with greater velocity’.

William Hill stated that during the reporting period, its international online gaming offering had been bolstered by an ‘updated version of the Mr Green live casino’, which the operator believes facilitated a double digit gaming net revenue growth during the period.

Ulrik Bengtsson, chief executive officer, noted: “We are very pleased with the trading performance of the Group, which has been borne out of the commitment, resilience and hard work of our teams across the business. I could not be prouder of them.

“We have moved the company forward with our relentless focus on our customers, enhancing the competitiveness of our product, and maintaining player safety as one of our highest priorities. We have reinvigorated the leadership team and they, in turn, have empowered their teams to deliver on our plans.”

Within the trading update, William Hill revealed that sports content and ‘in-person’ retail were slower to resume in the US with the MLB, NBA and NHL only recommencing their 2020 seasons late in July. 

Yet the company is now live in 12 states, having opened in Colorado, Illinois, Michigan, and Washington D.C. during Q3 and Pennsylvania in October, paving the way for an enhanced performance across its US verticals.

William Hill also reported strong wagering growth taking in 72 per cent of handle through the mobile channels.

Following the news that William Hill stakeholders had accepted a £2.9bn takeover bid from Caesars Entertainment, it is likely that future US expansion will become a key long-term focus for the operator as it seeks to expand its presence in a post-PASPA market.

Building on this expansion strategy, the bookmaker stated that it had completed the acquisition of Cantor sportsbooks during Q3 and commenced the integration of Caesar’s retail offerings. 

Following the full integration of the Caesars’ sportsbooks, which is expected in H2 2021, William Hill will become operational in more than 170 venues across 15 states, of which the majority will have a mobile William Hill presence.

The operator’s UK retail division was the only sector which the operator expects will record a Q3 loss, due to the COVID-19 restrictions which are being implemented across the UK, accounting for around ten per cent of its retail shops.

Like-for-like retail is expected to drop by two per cent during the period, yet the betting and gaming company expressed optimism that trading levels will return to pre-COVID standards with it having opened 1,400 betting estates during its ‘phased opening strategy’.

Closing its trading statement, William Hill confirmed that it anticipates payment of its multi-million pound HMRC VAT settlement on incorrect gaming machine duties to be refunded imminently.