January 10, 2008

Orbis in the frame to provide William Hill with new online sportsbook platform

Orbis is rumoured to be the name in the frame to provide William Hill with its new online sportsbook platform after the UK high-street bookmaking and gaming giant announced it was scrapping its own in-house programme.

According to high-level sources within the bookmaking industry, the agreement with Orbis is “a done deal”. Orbis was unavailable for comment.

A spokesperson for William Hill said it could not comment on the speculation.

William Hill sparked speculation with the announcement this morning in a trading update to the London Stock Exchange where it admitted that performance at its online operation had been “disappointing”.

It added that this reflected legacy technology issues “as well as the competitive market environment”.

Overall, the company said that in the 53 weeks to 1 January its retail operation had performed “strongly” and that the telephone business had “delivered a stable performance”. The firm expected full-year earnings before interest, tax and exceptional items to be around £285m. This represents a fall of around 2% from consensus estimates of around £292m. The share price fell over 6% on the morning of the announcement, down 28.5p to 404.75p.

William Hill already outsources its poker, casino and bingo technology provision form companies such as CryptoLogic and Virtue Fusion.

Back in November, William Hill instigated an independent review of its online sportsbook technology which concluded it should terminate its own NextGen technology programme and implement a third-party solution. The company said the decision would result in an exceptional non-cash impairment charge in relation to the existing technology programme of £22m and restructuring costs of around £4m.