Some of the biggest online sports betting operations in Europe are originally from the UK, where betting on sports and races (horses, greyhounds for example) is a tradition. The British market is dominated by three major bookmakers, each of them with decades of history and a large network of retail betting shops. They are sometimes called the Big Three: Ladbrokes, Coral and William Hill, the topic of this review.
William Hill is one of the biggest operators on the UK market, and a major name in the rest of Europe, too. It’s the third largest bookmaker of the country when it comes to retail outlets, and its digital arm dominates the British online betting and gaming market. No wonder – it has managed to gather a bunch of high quality services and to combine them with its retail operations (especially when it comes to deposits and withdrawals to be made through its betting shops).
Some might say the success story of William Hill starts with another school dropout. The difference is that this Birmingham dropout – William Hill, the founder of the company – left school at the age of twelve, most likely because of necessity rather than a decision, to work on his uncle’s farm. He was involved in betting even before turning 18 – once he even tried to become an on-course bookmaker, but he failed – his capital was lost rather quickly. After this failure he moved to London and started over. After a few attempts to make a living off sports betting, William Hill opened his first gambling den (illegal at the time) in 1934 – the moment when the history of the William Hill bookmaker network has officially started. He exploited a loophole in the laws that banned cash betting – they didn’t prohibit placing bets on credit and by post.
After a few years, when betting became legal in the UK, William Hill was tardy in opening its own legal betting offices. William himself considered legal betting to be “a cancer on society”. Finally he gave up, and opened his first legal betting office in 1966. After a few years he has retired (in 1970), and passed away in 1971, at the age of 63.
Since 1971, the William Hill company had its ups and downs, changing hands quite a few times. It was owned by investment funds, business development companies and various businessmen, until its flotation on the stock market in 2002. This moment seems to have been anticipated by investors for some time, as the initial offer was oversubscribed several times.
In time William Hill has become one of the biggest sports betting companies in the UK, with over 16,000 employees, with offices in the UK, Ireland and Gibraltar. Its digital arm – launched in 1998, well ahead of some of its major competitors – has transformed it into a truly international operation, gathering punters and players from all around the world.
When you take a look on William Hill’s highlights, you see that they are exactly what you would expect from a real British bookmaker: football (finally not referred to as soccer), a sport born in the UK, cricket (the national sport of England), horse and greyhound races and tennis. In this period – I write this review during the 2014 World Cup – football is especially in the center of attention at every bookmaker, including William Hill of course.
As all of its competitors, William Hill has dedicated a special section to the matches of the World Cup, offering its customers the possibility to place all the usual forms of bets on the matches, besides a series of specials (like the possibility to bet on all teams to score during the games of the day, the total number of goals for the day and several others).
When it comes to the odds, I must say they are not spectacular, at least when it comes to the outright bets. But we all know that it’s not only the odds that make a bookmaker special – its many specials allow punters to have a great betting experience even when the odds are not that good.
Besides football and the other highlights I listed above, William Hill also covers a series of other events, in 23 more categories (a total of 28) like basketball, volleyball and other ball games, motor sports, pool, darts, golf, snooker, virtual sports, financials, and a series of TV shows and other specials. They have quite a selection to browse through.
One of the most attractive features at William Hill is its in-play betting product. It covers a great variety of popular sports, including football (of course), cricket, tennis, greyhound racing and even baseball. To make the live betting service even more attractive, William Hill also streams a series of events through video streaming, and offers audio commentary on many others. (The operator even had its own cable channel once, for a limited time, but it was soon downgraded into a close circuit TV for the betting shops).
In its years of existence, William Hill has increased its online product range a lot. At first it was only a sportsbook, but later it has added a series of other services – most of them provided by Playtech, which was for a time one of the partners of the company.
William Hill has a popular online casino (a Playtech product), a bingo hall (a Playtech product) and a poker room (also a Playtech product), but besides it offers its players a series of other services just like the wide variety of games offered by Judi Bola: soft games through several sections (Games and Vegas), skill games that users can play against each other, and many more. It has one of the most complete set of “side games” I have ever seen at an online sportsbook.
Most of William Hill’s online services are also available for mobile users. It’s like Apple’s old slogan again (the “There’s an app for that” one) – William Hill offers its users a series of apps for most of its services, like sports betting, games, Vegas, virtual sports, bingo, and financial bets. It doesn’t have a mobile poker room though (I mention this because I want to be evil a little bit).
William Hill is not just another sportsbook, but a complete online entertainment center, with a series of high quality services offered to its customers.
It might not have the best odds at times, but the special features offered by the operator mostly make up for that. William Hill’s online target audience mostly coincides with its offline one – it combines some features of its online sportsbook with its retail services. For example, punters can place their bets through the web, through text message, through telephone and in person, in one of the company’s betting shops, using the same credentials. Also, they can cash out their winnings or deposit funds to their accounts through one of the company’s betting shops, through William Hill Cash Direct.
William Hill is surely one of the best places to bet if you reside in the UK or in Ireland. For the rest of Europe it is also a good choice, given that it is a major operator on the market, with few problems encountered by its users. It offers quality and reliable services, and also a great deal of peace of mind.