William Hill hit by hike in taxes

William Hill revealed betting tax changes had cost the firm �44m
William Hill revealed betting tax changes had cost the firm �44m
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Bookmaker William Hill has revealed a £44 million hit from changes to the way the government taxes online betting and gambling machines as it reported a slide in half-year profits.

The firm has also moved into the online lotteries market with the purchase of a 29.4 per cent stake in US-focused business NeoGames for about £16 million in cash.

Results for the six months to the end of June showed pre-tax profits down 35 per cent to £78.7 million, also impacted by one-off charges relating to its Australian operations.

The group said its results had been dragged down by the effect of the “point of consumption tax” on online gambling as well as the hike in duty on fixed odds betting terminals from 20 to 25 per cent.

Meanwhile, the introduction of the national living wage for workers aged over 25 is expected to cost it £1m to £2m in 2016.

Chief executive James Henderson said: “We have delivered a good operational performance in the past six months during a period of significant regulatory and taxation change for the industry. We remain committed to working with the industry and the regulator to promote responsible gambling and ensure that the marketing of gambling is socially responsible.”

Despite the slide in profits, William Hill lifted its interim dividend by 2.5 per cent to 4.1p.