Betting and gaming are enjoyed the world over by millions of people.

Today, the gambling industry takes many different forms from casinos to bingo clubs, betting shops and trackside betting to lotteries and online and mobile betting and gaming. Land-based activities remain the channel of choice for many gambling customers, while online gambling first started in earnest in 1998 and technology innovations have seen mobile grow rapidly in the last few years.

In many countries, gambling is either state-controlled or restricted to a small number of licencees. Some governments have been revising their regulatory regimes, particularly to cater for the internet. A legal framework typically involves the licensing of companies that are required to comply with a domestic regulatory regime and to pay gambling taxes in return for being allowed to advertise locally. William Hill is licensed to operate in a number of countries, including the UK, Gibraltar, Australia, Italy, Spain and Nevada in the US.

For some people, however, gambling can lead to problems and we work tirelessly to minimise this risk through our responsible gambling measures. 

The UK industry

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Gambling in the UK

In the UK, around 70% of the adult population participates in gambling each year. In the last year, an estimated 8 million people used licensed betting offices (LBOs), online or mobile devices for betting and gaming, equivalent to 17% of the UK adult population (source: Kantar Market Sizing Tracker, Q1-Q4 2014).

During the period April 2012 to March 2013, the British gambling industry generated a gross gambling yield of £6.3bn (excluding the National Lottery) (source: Gambling Commission, Industry Statistics,March 2014). The National Lottery is available from more outlets than any other part of the gambling sector at c38,000. Outside of this, the largest part of the industry is licensed betting offices, which accounted for around half of that gross gambling yield.

Betting on the UK high street

Betting shops became legal in Britain on 1 May 1961. More than 50 years later, they are one of the most familiar components of every high street, bringing additional footfall to the heart of communities throughout the UK. Fifty years ago, horse racing, greyhound racing and the occasional football match, tennis tournament or cricket test match were the options available to customers of betting shops.

Today, every major sporting event comes with betting odds attached. Royal weddings, Royal Ascot and reality TV are all available, along with ‘numbers’ betting, gaming machines and virtual racing, and almost any custom-built wager customers care to put forward will receive appropriate odds on request. The number of betting shops peaked in the 1970s at around 16,000 licences. Today, there are around 9,000 and that number has been relatively constant over the past five years.

Our UK economic contribution

The British LBO industry is a key contributor to the UK economy. We directly support around 38,800 full-time equivalent jobs and generate £2.3bn towards GDP. With a number of other industries being reliant on ours, our total economic footprint is more than 100,000 FTE jobs and £5bn towards GDP (source: Measuring the economic contribution of the British betting industry, Deloitte, March 2013).

With a high proportion of our betting shop costs being fixed, any material adverse change to our industry risks substantial shop closures and job losses. For instance, in 2014 William Hill closed 108 betting shops after the Chancellor announced an increase in Machine Games Duty. Shop closures affect not only our industry and employees but also those reliant on ours, such as horse racing and greyhound racing.

We make a positive contribution to local economies, paying c£58m in business rates, offering flexible working arrangements and providing a meeting place for members of local communities to take part in an enjoyable pastime.