William Hill is the largest betting company in the world. Within the UK alone, they operate 2 325 betting stores. They also have an online casino site that is available in 10 languages and 24 currencies. The site provides horse race betting, sports betting bets, financial betting bingo, casino, poker and arcade and skill games on one site and the player’s account bank. Since it is a publicly traded company through the London Stock Exchange (WMH.L) It is able to be verified. In 2011, they served over 1.3 million gamblers, with revenues over PS146.5 million. What is the process that allows a company to grow to be this big? The answer will be revealed in the history of William Hill.
William Hill (founder) Born in 1903
William Hill’s story William Hill story begins with the 16th of July, 1903 birthday of the founder and name, William Hill. William Hill was born in Birmingham, England, the third child of an extremely strict family. When he was a young man, he was a student at Oldknow Road School before leaving to work for the farm of his father at the age of twelve. Later, as an infant, worked at BSA working in Birmingham. Perhaps irritated by his strict family, overcrowded house, and work at the age of 16, Hill was caught lying about his age and then hopped on a wagon for a ride with the black and tan.
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The legend says the legend has it that William Hill developed a passion for bookmaking and horse racing at an early age. In his time at BSA operations and was exposed to betting. When he was with the Black and Tans they were stationed in Mallow, County Cork, Ireland. There, he would spend the rest of his time betting at Moss Foley’s bar. After returning from work and he continued to work in the bookmaking industry in a smaller scale.
Hill’s first venture into legal bookmaking was in 1925, as an on-course bookmaker on his home on the Birmingham tracks. Because of his inability to make a few large bets, he quickly lost all his money. He relocated to London to start placing bets on greyhounds. This enabled him to save enough money to invest in and eventually become a partner of Northolt Park Racetrack (that would be famous for its the pony races).
William Hill (Company) Founded 1934
The year was 1934 when William Hill opened his first off-track betting store located in Park Lane, London. This was the beginning of the business that is now known as William Hill. In the early days the cash bookmaking process was prohibited. Hill employed a loophole in the law that allowed “credit only” betting, which required punters to make cash (in person or by post) months in advance. They were only cashed after the event took place, which made it completely legal, while also retaining legal recourse to bounced checks.
Hill continued to build his business around “trust”. In the early days the gambling debts were not enforceable legally, and bookies weren’t required to pay punters legally. Although there were numerous frauds, his business grew to 500,000 customers by the 1960’s due to his reputation as a trustworthy businessman who paid winners.
The invention of fixed Odds Football Betting
The year 1944 was the time that William Hill became the first bookmaker to offer fixed odds on football bets. The story of Ladbrokes is often not able to credit him. There is no doubt that Ladbrokes is the very first UK- licensed betting shop that offered fixed odds, however, William Hill was doing this as a credit bookmaker prior to that. Court documents show that he was before Ladbrokes and that he filed a lawsuit against them in the early 1960’s over copying his ticket. Being the gentleman was, he pleaded for just PS1 damages and costs, that was granted by the House of Lords granted.
William Hill as a Breeder
In the 1930s, William Hill had become the first ever self-made millionaire author. As he continued to build his bookmaking empire and pursuing his passion for breeding horses. He bought a stud at Whitsbury located in Hampshire during 1943 (Nimbus) which in 1949 was awarded the Two Thousand Guineas and Derby. In 1945, he bought the Sezincote Stud in Gloucestershire which won the 1953 Derby. He also was a winner of the Classic by winning the Classic with Cantelo during the year 1959 St. Leger and the Gimcrack Stake and the Champagne Stake in 1958 with Be Watchful.
William Hill the First Ever PLC Bookmaker
The year 1954 saw William Hill moved his business to a shell corporation known as Holder’s Investment Trust to secure an opportunity to be the first bookmaker to be listed publicly at the London Stock Exchange. Between 1955 and 1961, Hill sold a portion of his shares at more than PS5 million.
William Hill Personal Life
To explain William Hill’s recent move into the business of betting shops, it is important to discuss his private life. In 1923, he got married to Ivy Burley (nicknamed Daisy) who worked as an hairdresser from Birmingham. They were blessed with their first child in 1924, Kathleen Hill (nicknamed Bubbles) who was later named Kathleen Lavinia after her marriage. She died at 37 years old. It is the Saint Leonard’s Parish Church of Whitsbury is located close to the track that he bought his first stud, to today, bears the words:
“To the glory to the Glory of God and in the Loving Memory of the daughter Kathleen Lavinia, Born 10th February 1924, died 27 November 1961. The church was renovated and remodeled during 1963, by William as well as Ivy Hill”.
Hill was not a cash hungry, coldhearted bookie. In his time, he was a horse breeder and racer with passion, went on regular fishing trips and patronized youth cricket leagues for children. He was a fervent Roman Catholic and Socialist. When the UK allowed betting shops to be legalized, beginning on May 1 1961, he was openly scathing about the establishments. He even went to the extent of calling betting shops a scourge on society that sucks up the working man. According to him, gambling was a pastime and a competition for those with the money to pay for it. He was a reputable bookie who made millions times over the course of his life because of hard work, confidence, and running an honest business.
In 1966 betting shops were so commonplace in the UK that the traditional bookies were forced to change. Hill started investing into the gambling shop empire that is known as today. In 1970, he resigned and died in the year following.
The Ownership of William Hill’s Estate Following the Death of the Legendary
In the event that William Hill died on October 16th 1971, the company was purchased from Sears Plc. A lot of William Hill history articles associate it with Sears Holdings Group which includes 4,000 retail stores under the Sears and Kmart brands. It’s not the Sears Holdings Group. Sears. The Sears which took over William Hill is a UK conglomerate that operates in the retail shoe business. The current brands are Barratts as well as Priceless Shoes. Under Sears control the company expanded to over 1800 legal betting stores in 1988.
The year 1989 was when William Hill was purchased by Brent Walker. In the same year, they were made the official bookmaker for the Golf’s PGA European Tour with betting shops on the course. In the 90’s, betting shops were more popular within the UK. They no longer had to block their windows and could instead display the odds and ads for everyone to view. The law that prohibited the establishments from opening during the week on Sundays also canceled and the right to advertise through newspapers and television, and on radio was also granted. Private Scratchcards were made legal and became available at William Hill stores.
Since betting is now a mainstream activity, Walker cashed in, selling them Nomura (Grand Bookmaking Company) in exchange for PS700m. The company was sold two months later, in the year 1999. They sold it to Cinven as well as CVC Partners for PS825 million. In the year 2002 William Hill was successfully listed onto the London Stock Exchange for approximately PS1 billion.
William Hill Online
The year 2000 was the time that William Hill launched an off-shore betting shop that was a phone-in. It was a call center located in Athlone, Ireland, which allowed bets on William Hill International based in Antigua in Antigua, where tax was just 3 percent. In the same year they were one of the very first UK bookmaker to provide tax-free betting on the Internet. Strangely enough, despite being well-known to all bettors as William the Hill, they were required to register their own domain willhill.com. It was a domain williamhill.com was previously used by an establishment in California. The winery stopped using it the latter half of 2005. William Hill the bookmaker acquired the domain in 2009 and redirected the brand they had created.
As you could imagine, William Hill was the biggest betting company worldwide, and their expansion as an online business was a natural progression. Today, there are a variety of multi-language betting websites however, at the time William Hill entered the market at full-scale in 2000, there were only a few. They were already well-known worldwide and was the largest bookmaker within the UK. The company’s growth was rapid after they it was launched in 2000 and supported English, Spanish, French, German, Italian, Portuguese, Japanese, Norwegian, as well as Finnish languages. In the latter part of 2000, the company added an online gambling site to their offerings and later the poker rooms online was added in 2003. On April 17th, 2002 William Hill signed a deal with the British Horseracing Board for the commercial use of race data. The data from the race was made accessible on their website.
After a successful flotation on the London Stock Exchange in 2002 Numerous acquisitions followed. In September of 2002, William Hill purchased Sunderland Greyhound Stadium. The following year, in March, Brough Park Greyhound Stadium was added. In 2005, it bought 624 betting outlets at Stanley Leisure for PS504 million however, it was forced to sell 78 of them because of an anti-competitive practices decision. Then, in 2008 it entered into collaboration with the world’s biggest casino software company and poker system operator Playtech.
As previously mentioned, William Hill remains the world’s biggest betting brand. The site is accessible in 24 languages and with 10 currency options, as well as it offers horse and sports bets, betting on financial markets, bingo, casino, poker, skill games, as well as arcade games. It is without doubt one of the most secure and well-regulated sites for gamblers on the internet.