Grand National ‘shock’ was major boost for bookie

Auroras Encore, with Scots jockey Ryan Mania on board, roars to National glory. Picture: PA

Auroras Encore, with Scots jockey Ryan Mania on board, roars to National glory. Picture: PA

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WILLIAM Hill hailed a “successful” start to 2013 yesterday after enjoying its best ever result at this year’s Grand National when 66-1 outsider Auroras Encore won at Aintree.

The firm said the victory for Scots jockey Ryan Mania in the Grand National, which came after the end of its first quarter, even surpassed its record win on the 2009 race when Mon Mome romped home at 100-1.

Issuing a buoyant trading update, the UK’s largest bookmaker also highlighed the success of its digital arm.

Chief executive Ralph Topping revealed that online revenues rose 21 per cent and operating profit 13 per cent in the first three months of 2013. That compared with group revenues up 15 per cent and operating profits up 8 per cent.

The numbers contrasted starkly with Ladbrokes, which earlier this week posted a £13 million slide in profits to £37.4m in the three months to end-March. That included £6m in lost revenues after a good week for punters at Cheltenham.

William Hill said mobile Sportsbook amounts wagered grew 145 per cent in the 13 weeks to 2 April, while mobile gaming revenues rocketed nearly 300 per cent.

The company recently spent £424m on taking full control of William Hill Online, buying the 29 per cent stake held by gaming software partner Playtech. Yesterday it pledged more significant investment in the operation.

Topping said: “Having grown our UK online market share from 10 to 15 per cent over the last four years, we aim to increase our share and are making significant investments in marketing, technology and people to achieve that.”

The group also wants to see mobile bets account for more than 40 per cent of Sportsbook stakes before the end of this year, up from 35 per cent in the first quarter.

Richard Hunter, head of equities at Hargreaves Lansdown Stockbrokers, said online and mobile betting had contributed to an “impressive” set of figures.

The online performance offset a 3 per cent fall in quarterly profits across William Hill’s 2,400 betting shops. The firm is also expanding overseas and recently snapped up Sportingbet’s Australian division in a £460m deal.

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