Britain's biggest bookmaker William Hill said it would look to expand internationally to take advantage of countries legalising gambling as it reported full-year earnings which were marginally ahead of previous guidance.
The company, which has over 2,370 betting shops and takes over 1 million bets a day, said operating profit for the year to December 27 totalled 275.7 million pounds, compared with 276.8 million ponds the year before. The previous year's performance was boosted by the soccer World Cup.
William Hill said in January it expected to report an operating profit for 2011 of around 274 million pounds.
This is a very positive performance, particularly in a year without a significant international football tournament and with a 9 million increase in VAT payments as a result of the rate change, Chief Executive Ralph Topping said in a statement, referring to a 2.5 percent rise in sales tax last year.
Topping said the company will seek to invest selectively to expand outside of Britain over the coming years.
We believe there are more opportunities to grow in our core market in the UK and also for the business to expand internationally beyond our traditional roots as more governments open up their regulated gambling markets, he said.
(Reporting by Matt Scuffham; Editing by Sarah Young)