William Hill has been one of the leaders in the online casino and sportsbook industry for a long time but it'll be looking for brighter days - at least in terms of profits - in 2017. It has come a long way from 1934, which is when it was founded by the man of the same name, but 2016 was a bit of a struggle in terms of revenues and they'll be looking to get off to a good start in 2017.
The year-end forecast for William Hill's 2016 profits were between $313.2 million and $337.3 million, but by the end of the year, the forecast didn't think that they'd even get to the low end of that. This was the third profit warning that William Hill released in 2016 with those numbers also reflecting a drop from their profits in 2015. The target misses were expected after the ominous exit of chief executive James Henderson back in July - less than two years on the job.
Of course, there has been plenty of research into why William Hill's profits are dropping and most of the faults had been blamed on sports and horse racing. In terms of the online casino action, there wasn't a noticeable drop in production in that realm but sports and horse racing struggled - particularly in the month of the December.
Another factor for the profit misses is that one of William Hill's largest shareholders, Parvus Management, was supposed to merge with Amaya Group of Canada, but they decided to go against that. Amaya is a Canadian online gaming company and that might have exposed William Hill more to North American players.
As a result, the bosses at William Hill won't be getting a performance bonus for falling short in 2016, which should motivate them to turn things around in 2017. One way to do this is to figure out new ways to make some strategic partnerships with American casinos. William Hill's American division has been working on exactly that as they just announced that they'll be working with Caesars Entertainment in Pine Bluffs, Iowa.
The two companies are partnering on a racebook at the Horseshoe Council Bluffs Casino. They're aiming to get this done in time for the Kentucky Derby, so that is something to keep an eye on. This is just one example of the type of partnership William Hill executives are looking to execute to help their bottom line.
All is definitely not lost for William Hill, which is still a huge name in the world of online gaming and sportsbooks - especially in the United Kingdom and Europe. If they can continue to find a way to move into the North American market and see a turnaround in their sports and horse racing divisions, they should get back on track for 2017.
The full details of their 2016 fiscal year will be reported on February 24.