William Hill reports huge spike in tennis betting

Arvind Hickman
By Arvind Hickman | 21 January 2016

Online betting agency William Hill has seen a 258% year-on-year increase to in-play gambling activity during the first two days of the Australian Open.

Figures obtained by AdNews reveal William Hill's sponsorship of the event has had a strong impact on turnover (up 93% on last year) despite media allegations the betting shop is under an Australian Federal Police (AFP) probe.

However, a Herald Sun front page article alleges William Hill is under an AFP investigation. As a sponsor of the Australian Open the article has left the Victorian government fuming.

At the heart of the complaint is the fact online in-play betting is illegal in Australia, but not if you call in via a phone. William Hill offers in-play betting through a smartphone app that uses VOIP, similar to Skype.

William Hill, the first gambling sponsor in the grand slam's history, today demanded a retraction by the News Corp tabloid.

“William Hill has received confirmation from the Australian Communications and Media Authority that they have not referred to the Australian Federal Police a complaint about William Hill’s in-play service on 24 December, as referenced in the article,” a spokesperson says.

“We also note that no formal investigation has been undertaken by the Australian Federal Police, let alone any determination that the service is in breach of the law.”

William Hill was attracted to sponsoring the event by the IBM-powered MatchCentre feature of the Australian Open mobile app, which provides fans with live updates, stats and analysis at their fingertips.

While the betting agency sponsors the feature, AdNews understands it does not use the data for its in-play betting.

Tennis Australia tells AdNews it has no problem with William Hill sponsoring the event and the MatchCentre feature aligned well with what William Hill does.

“Personally, I don't have a problem with wagering,” Tennis Australia manager of digital and publishing Kim Trengove says. “In Australia it is something we've done since we first got here. If I did [have a problem with it] we wouldn't have them as a partner.”

William Hill made a major push into the Australian market, after buying local betting house Tom Waterhouse in August 2013.

William Hill axed brands Sportingbet, TomWaterhouse.com and Centrebet when it officially launched in Australia last year.

William Hill's bumper start to the Australian Open (2015 vs 2016)

After two days:

  • In-play (live betting) turnover up 258%.
  • 93% increase in turnover.
  • All bets up almost 150%.
  • William Hill have paid out over $1.3m in their #ChaseTheAce promotion. This includes paying out $114,000 on Milos Raonic serving 24 aces in a match and $90,000 on John Isner serving 37 aces.

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