There hasn't been a sportsbook in the US that hasn't been adversely affected by COVID-19. Some have definitely fared better than others depending their company’s services. William Hill, one of the world's top sportsbooks has had a particularly tough time, largely because of their one-dimensional betting platform in its US markets. As a result, the company is looking to ramp up their offerings and to allow for online casinos in the American outlets.
With the sports world slowly creeping back to some semblance of normalcy, expanding William Hill's portfolio may not be all that necessary, but it certainly won't hurt. Sportsbooks that have online casinos have obviously taken a hit during these uncertain times but table games, poker and other casino games at least mitigated some of the losses incurred.
William Hill in the US
William Hill is not only one of the biggest names in the betting industry, but it is a huge player in the bustling US market. Currently the company has a presence in nine states – Delaware, Indiana, Iowa, Mississippi, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, Rhode Island, Washington, D.C., and West Virginia.
The main problem that COVID-19 has exposed with William Hill USA is their lack of an online casino – something that could have kept on generating revenue during the world's sports shutdown. The sportsbook came out as one of the biggest revenue losers in the US through the first part of the coronavirus pandemic, losing a whopping 90% of total net revenue from the same point last year.
The company did take steps a few weeks ago when they set up drive-thru services in Nevada for new customers to set up accounts and for existing customers to top up their accounts. The cash injection however minimally affected their sportsbooks bottom line and contributed a fraction of what an online casino would have.
Online casino boom
With land-based casinos closed across the country, online casinos saw a huge jump in revenues in April, the first full month of COVID closures. Online casino and online poker have been two of a very select few winners during the coronavirus pandemic.
New Jersey for instance brought in $80 million from online casinos in April – a 23% increase from March and an incredible 118% jump from April, 2019. Pennsylvania reported a 60% increase in online casino handle from March and Delaware, the smallest market currently operating in the legal US betting industry took in $28.5 million from online casinos which represents a 74% increase from March and a 138% increase from last April.
Online Poker has also been bringing in a fair amount of revenue to sportsbooks that support the game. US online social poker room Global Poker reported a 43% increase of online poker players the last month and an astounding 255% increase in the amount of first-time online poker players.
William Hill's planned casino rollout
The plan for William Hill is to have an online casino ready to roll by the second half of 2020 – obviously too late to absorb some of the sportsbook losses the last couple of months. New Jersey is rumored to be the first to receive this service with the rest of William Hill's locations to follow soon after that.
Ulrik Bengtsson, CEO of William Hill, recently commented: “In the US, where we offer online sports betting in four states, we continued to take wagers on alternative activities. Product development has accelerated throughout the period and we will be launching online casino in the second half of the year.”
Better late than never
William Hill is finally moving toward becoming a full-service casino in the US. It unfortunately took a global pandemic to kickstart that plan. CEO Ulrik Bengtsson recently commented that: “Our strategy for the company remains a simple one – to win with our customers, build agile collaborative teams, and get things done – execution. We are developing products that we are proud of and that will improve William Hill’s competitiveness for the long term.”
Having a complimentary online casino to add to their already popular sportsbook was once simply a luxury but the coronavirus pandemic has shown it to be more of a necessity. William Hill is proof of that but is refusing to continue being left behind in that regard. Look for slots and table games to be a part of your William Hill experience in the US before too long – better late than never!