William Hill is the largest betting company in the world. In the UK alone, they operate 2 325 betting stores. They also have an online casino site that is available in 24 languages as well as 10 currencies. The site allows horse race betting, sports betting bets, financial betting casino, poker, bingo as well as arcade games, all from a single website and players account bank. It is a publicly traded corporation via the London Stock Exchange (WMH.L) the company can be verified. In 2011, they provided services to the needs of more than 1.3 million gamblers and made profits over PS146.5 million. How did a company grow to be this big? All will be revealed in our history of William Hill.
William Hill (founder) Born in 1903
The William Hill story begins with the 16th of July in 1903, birth date for the company’s founder and name, William Hill. William Hill was born in Birmingham, England, the one of the 13 children of a strict family. As a young lad, He attended Oldknow Road School before leaving to work for his uncle’s farm at age of twelve. As a child, worked for BSA which was based in Birmingham. Perhaps irritated by his strict upbringing, crowded home, and working life when he was 16 Hill admitted to lying about his age and jumped on a wagon in order to be a part of the Black and Tans.
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Legend has it that William Hill developed a passion for bookmaking and horse racing at an early age. In the course of his work with BSA work He was introduced to betting. While working for the Black and Tans and the Black and Tans, he worked in Mallow, County Cork, Ireland. In Mallow, he spent all day taking bets at Moss Foley’s bar. After returning from work after work, he worked in the bookmaking industry at a modest scale.
Hill’s first attempt as a legal bookmaking was in 1925. He was an on course bookmaker at his home on the Birmingham tracks. In the event of being unable to make a few large bets, he eventually ended up losing all his capital. The year 1929 saw him moved to London to start placing bets on greyhounds. This allowed him to accumulate enough money to invest and also become a shareholder of Northolt Park Racetrack (that would be famous for its racetracks for pony).
William Hill (Company) Founded 1934
It was in 1934 that William Hill opened his first off-track betting shop situated in Park Lane, London. This was the start of the company we now call William Hill. At the time cash bookmaking was prohibited. Hill made use of a loophole in the law that allowed “credit only” betting. He made punters make check (in person or through post) weeks in advanced. These were cashed only after the event had taken place, thus making it legal while he also retained legal recourse in the event of bounced checks.
Hill was able to continue to build his business on “trust”. In the early days, gambling debts weren’t enforceable under the law, which meant that bookies didn’t even need to pay punters legally. Although there were numerous frauds, his company grew to 500,000 customers by the mid-’60s due to his reputation as a trustworthy businessman that paid the winners.
The Invention of Fixed Odds Football Betting
On April 4, 1944 William Hill became the first bookmaker to provide fixed odds for football betting. The story of Ladbrokes reported elsewhere often fails to give him credit. It is true that Ladbrokes was the first UK licensed betting store to offer fixed odds; however, William Hill was doing this as a credit bookmaker prior to that. Court records show that he predated Ladbrokes and even brought a case against them in the beginning of the 1960’s over copying his ticket. Being the gentleman the man was, he sought for only PS1 damages plus costs, to which the House of Lords granted.
William Hill as a Breeder
In the latter part of 1930, William Hill had become the first ever self-made millionaire in the book industry. While continuing his bookmaking empire the author became interested in breeding horses. He purchased a stud in Whitsbury located in Hampshire around 1943 (Nimbus) that in 1949 was awarded the Two Thousand Guineas and Derby. In 1945, he purchased the Sezincote Stud in Gloucestershire which was the winner of the 1953 Derby. He also was a winner of the Classic using Cantelo at the time of the St. Leger and the Gimcrack Stake as well as the Champagne Stake in 1958 with Be Careful.
William Hill the First Ever PLC Bookmaker
In 1954, William Hill moved his business to a shell corporation known as Holder’s Investment Trust to secure an account as the first bookmaker ever publicly-listed by the London Stock Exchange. From 1955 to 1961 Hill was able to sell a small portion of his shares for more than PS5 million.
William Hill Personal Life
To understand the reasons behind William Hill’s sudden entry into the betting shop industry, it’s necessary to examine his personal life. In 1923, he married Ivy Burley (nicknamed Daisy), who was the hairdresser of Birmingham. They were blessed with their first baby the following year, Kathleen Hill (nicknamed Bubbles) which later became Kathleen Lavinia after her marriage. She passed away at 37. The Saint Leonard’s Parish Church of Whitsbury is located close to the track, where he bought his first stud this day bears the words:
“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 restored and refurnished during 1963, by William the Ivy Hill and William Ivy Hill”.
Hill was not a cash hungry bookie with a cold heart. In his time, he ran and bred horses with passion, went on frequent fishing trips, and sponsored youth cricket leagues. He was a devout Roman Catholic and Socialist. When the UK legalized gambling establishments, from May 1 1961, he became openly scathing about betting shops. He even went even as far as to call them a cancer on society that sucks up the working man. In his opinion, betting was a fun activity as well as a game for those with the money to afford it. He was a reputable bookmaker who earned millions times over in his lifetime because of hard work, trust, and running an honest shop.
In the year 1966, betting shops had become all over the UK that traditional bookies were forced to adapt. Hill started investing into the gambling shop empire that is known as today. In 1970, he took a break and died the following year.
Ownership Following William Hill’s Demise
In the event that William Hill died on October 16th 1971, the company was bought from Sears Plc. A lot of William Hill history articles associate it with Sears Holdings Group that has over 4,000 retail outlets under Sears and Kmart brands. It’s not the identical Sears. The Sears that bought William Hill is a UK conglomerate operating in the retail footwear business. The current brands are Barratts and Priceless Shoes. Under Sears control the company expanded to 1800 betting shops that were legal by 1988.
In 1989, William Hill was purchased by Brent Walker. The following year, they were made the official bookmaker for the Golf’s PGA European Tour with betting shops located on the course. The 1990’s saw betting shops were more socially acceptable across the UK. They were no longer required to shut their doors, they could instead display advertising and odds for the public to see. The law that prevented shops from being open for business on Sundays too was removed as was the possibility to advertise through newspapers and television, as well as on the radio was also granted. Private Scratchcards were made legal and were available in William Hill establishments.
With betting now mainstream, Walker cashed in, selling Nomura (Grand Bookmaking Corporations) at PS700m. The company was then sold 2 times in the following year in 1999 Cinven in 1999 and CVC Partners for PS825 million. Finally, in the year 2002 William Hill was successfully floated to the London Stock Exchange for approximately PS1 billion.
William Hill Online
The year 2000 was the time that William Hill launched an off-shore, phone-in betting shop. It utilized a call centre in Athlone, Ireland, which allowed bets on William Hill International based in Antigua in Antigua, where tax was only 3 percent. The year before, they became one of the very first UK bookmaker that offered tax-free betting via the Internet. Oddly enough, despite being recognized by every bettors as William, they had to make use of this domain willhill.com. It was a domain williamhill.com was previously in use by an establishment in California. The winery stopped using it in late 2005, and William Hill the bookmaker acquired it in 2009, redirecting the brand they’d built.
As you can imagine, this was already the most popular betting brand globally, and their expansion as an online business was a natural transition. Nowadays, there are many multiple language betting sites but at the time William Hill entered the market at full-scale in 2000, there were few. They were already a household name internationally and were the biggest bookmaker operating in the UK. Their popularity exploded when they launched in 2000 supporting English, Spanish, French, German, Italian, Portuguese, Japanese, Norwegian along with Finnish languages. Then, in the late 2000s, William Hill added an online gaming platform to their offering and later an online casino was added in 2003. On April 17, 2002 William Hill signed a deal with the British Horseracing Board for the commercial use of the data. The racing information was made accessible on their website.
After successful flotation on the London Stock Exchange in 2002 many acquisitions were made. In September of 2002 William Hill purchased Sunderland Greyhound Stadium. The following March, Brough Park Greyhound Stadium was added. In 2005, it acquired 624 betting outlets from Stanley Leisure for PS504 million however, it required to sell 78 them because of an anti-competitive practices ruling. Then, in 2008 it entered into collaboration with the world’s biggest casino software company and poker network operator, Playtech.
In the above paragraph, William Hill remains the world’s biggest betting brand. The website is available in 24 languages and 10 , currencies. Additionally, supports sports and horse race gambling, as well as financial bets, bingo, casino, poker, skill games, and arcade games. This is certainly one of the safest and most well-regulated websites for gamblers who gamble online.