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A History Of William Hill

William are a British bookmaker based out of Wood Gree, London. William Hill Plc are listed on the London Stock Exchange and is consituent of the FTSE 200 index.


The company was originally founded by William Hill back in 1934. Gambling was in fact illegal in Britain at this point. Hill was born in Birmingham and left school at twelve to work on his uncles farm. He started off by accepting illegal bets off of people on his motorcycle. Whilst this first attempt to break into the gambling industry was not too successful his second foray was somewhat more fruitful. When he moved to London in 1929 he started taking greyhound bets before opening a gambling den in Jermyn Street in 1934. He had managed to exploit a loophole which meant he was able to accept credit or postal betting. At this point he was not able to accept cash. In 1944 he went on to produce the first fixed odds football coupon and in 1954 he placed his business into a Holder’s Investment Trust that allowed the company to be listed on the Stock Exchange. He retired in 1970 but died a year later at the age of 68. Hill bred and owned Cantelo, a filly that won the St Leger in 1959. He was also joint-owner of Greyhound Derby winner Lone Keel who was successful in 1938. Since Hill’s death the company has changed hands many times.

1971 – Present Day

It was first taken on by Sears Holdings in 1971, by Grand Metropolitan in 1988 and by Brent Walker just a year later. Interestingly in 1996 Brent Walker received £117m back of the  £685m spent to acquire the business. This was because Grand Metropolitan had exaggerated the companies profits. Japanese firm Nomura bought the company after the collapse of Brent Walker in 1997. They offloaded the company to Cinven and CVC partners in 1999.
The company were listed on the London Stock Exchange in 2002. The company now employs in excess of 16000 people in the UK, Republic of Ireland and Gibraltar. They own 2300 UK betting shops and are the Largest UK operator with around 25% of the market in the UK and Ireland. They are rumoured to process  more than a million slips in their shops on an average day.  They have also functioned in other countries. They have had unsuccessful periods in Italy and Spain but are no longer involved in these countries. They had success in Australia but ceased their involvement over there in 2018. They are still involved in Nevada, USA and have a large market share over there.
They sponsor a range of sports and in 2009 they became shirt sponsor for Spanish first-tier football team Malaga. The company also sponsors the William Hill Sportsbook of the year.
The company currently has Gareth Davis as chairman of the board whilst Phillip Bowcock is the Chief Executive Officer. Their financial figures for 2017 were reported as £1.7 billion for revenue, £291 million in operating income and a net income of £83 million. For more information on this bookmaker please check out our William Hill Review and William Hill Free Bets article.

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