February 6, 2013
How a British company is changing the Nevada race and sportsbook landscape
William Hill nets half billion in profit despite US losses
Despite its U.S. operations posting a “modest” loss, William Hill Plc. expects net revenue for 2012 to be 12 percent higher than in 2011. The British bookmaker is expected to release its official fourth-quarter and full-year earnings on March 1.
William Hill said Tuesday its 2012 performance had been “strong” with operating profit expected to be approximately $519.6 million, helped in part by a 27 percent boost in online net revenues and a six percent rise in retail earnings.
Its U.S. bookmaking business, which operates in Delaware and Nevada, was adversely affected by weak results, especially from the National Football League.
In a statement, William Hill said its Nevada acquisitions were successfully completed on schedule in September. The company warned that its performance in the U.S. “was impacted by weak sporting results, particularly the NFL in November, and as a result delivered a modest operating loss.”
William Hill spent $49 million to acquire American Wagering Inc. and Brandywine Bookmaking LLC in Las Vegas, as well as Club Cal Neva’s sports book operations in Northern Nevada. The company operates 160 sports books and kiosks in Nevada and employs 400 people.
William Hill determines the product offering, sets the odds and point spreads and manages the risk for the Delaware Lottery through a partnership with Scientific Games. Sports betting in Delaware is limited to wagers on NFL games only using parlay cards.- C.S.
Michael Ciasco was quickly considering whom to bet on in the third race at Tampa Downs.
It was Friday morning, and Ciasco, who has bet on horse racing almost every day since he arrived in Las Vegas 36 years ago, took his seat at William Hill’s sports book at Terrible’s.
Armed with a small coffee, a pencil and the Player’s Edition of the Daily Racing Form, Ciasco was ready for his day at the office.
“I come here around 9 a.m., have breakfast, bet until about 1 p.m. and then I go home,” Ciasco said. “I do it every day. I only bet dollars on each race and I’m only a horse player.”
Ciasco said he isn’t comfortable betting more than $3 or $4 dollars per race. That adds up to $18 or $19 a day, making Ciasco a cautious if not thrifty gambler.
“Money management in this town is very important,” he said. “I don’t have a system of my own, so I’m pretty much picking horses at random.”
Sports bettors all have their own reasons for why they might put anywhere from $5 to $50,000 on a game.
“It’s exciting,” said Kandace Allman. “I watch every minute and really get into the game when I have money on it. Sometimes, I yell at the TV telling them what they should be doing.”
Allman sounds like a lot of people you meet at Las Vegas sports books.
“I win a lot,” she said. “I like to bet on NBA and NFL games, but I’ve started (betting) on hockey and college games. I’m really into betting on the Oklahoma City Thunder.”
Allman also likes to put a few dollars on the Golden State Warriors, Los Angeles Clippers, and Detroit Pistons. Both Allman and her friend, Connie Martin, took the 4 points and the Baltimore Ravens to defeat the San Francisco 49ers in the Super Bowl on Sunday.
As of Thursday, the over-under on the game is 47.5 points.
“I can’t predict the future, but I like the Ravens,” Martin said.
While it might be a marginal addition to Nevada’s total gaming revenues, gambling on sports is big business. In 2011, casino visitors wagered more than $2.8 billion on sporting events, with sports books taking home $140.7 million, according to the Nevada Gaming Control Board.
“It’s mostly football,” said David G. Schwartz, director of the Center for Gaming Research at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. “Football has declined though and basketball is gaining in popularity. That’s because the NCAA is getting a lot more attention than it did years ago.”