William Hill has reported a 16 per cent drop in revenue to £1.32bn (2019: $1.58bn) as pre tax profit for the year plummeted to £9.1m (2019: £96.5m), due to disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

With global sporting events cancelled for large parts of year as well as closures and restrictions being imposed on a land-based operations, the group’s retail estate, which includes over 1,400 UK betting shops, saw revenue decline 30 per cent on a like-for-like basis.

The group also declared group adjusted operating profits of £57.3m, down 61 per cent from 2019’s £147m, driven by the aforementioned disruptions and partially offset by its digital channels.

Online delivered a nine per cent net revenue growth to £802m (FY2019: £738m), with its international digital division up 16 per cent driven by expansion into new territories.

Furthermore, William Hill also reported that its online segment delivered adjusted operating profits of £122m, up three per cent on FY 2019 comparatives of £119m.

Despite asserting that its is “delighted” with the performance, as opportunities in Latin America, via an agreement to acquire Alfabet S.A.S. in Colombia and licence in Argentina, present further growth opportunities, the group notes its online ambitions still have room to expand further still.

Acknowledging that its online division is gaining momentum, particularly in a “strong start to 2021,” the group noted: “To succeed in today’s global gambling market, operators need a competitive customer offering with enhanced in-built customer protection tools. 

“Our strategy to drive our digital capability has begun to bear fruit with a steady stream of product and platform upgrades building real momentum as the year progressed.”

William Hill, who stands poised to finalise its $2.9bn takeover by Caesars Entertainment in the second quarter of the year, also highlighted ongoing progress in the US which has led to revenue growth of 32 per cent. 

Ulrik Bengtsson, CEO of William Hill, commented: “We began the year well and finished the year even stronger, highlighting the traction generated by our strategic focus on customer, team, execution. 

“In what was an extraordinary year I am immensely proud of how the group has responded and the resilience we have seen in our performance. We prioritised the protection and safety of both our colleagues and our customers, and our employees went above and beyond for which I thank them.

“In 2020 we put our strategic plans firmly into action, diversifying our geographical footprint, expanding our team’s capabilities and rebuilding our technology. 

“We are embedding proprietary components across the platform architecture and are delivering a constant flow of new features including faster product experience, improved navigation and greater protection to our customers around the world.”

Adding: “As William Hill embarks on a new chapter, we will continue to prioritise the protection of our customers. The UK government has commenced the gambling review and we will engage with the relevant stakeholders to encourage evidence-led legislation that finds the right balance to keep our customers safe within a well-regulated ecosystem, to secure the tax base and to secure the industry. 

“The William Hill brand remains highly regarded and is well-positioned for its future under new ownership. I am indebted to my colleagues and employees, who have made this happen and realised such value for our shareholders.”