- Gambling company William Hill scrapped its interim dividend after it posted an underlying loss for the first-half, as sales plunged amid the cancellation of sporting events due to the pandemic.

Pre-tax profit for the six months through June amounted to £141.1m, compared to losses of £63.5m on-year, thanks to a one-off £201.6m value-added tax refund.

Revenue slumped 32% to £554.4m and adjusted pre-tax losses amounted to £14.2m, swinging from a profit of £50.8m on-year.

William Hill's bottom line was also dented by a £81.9m non-cash intangible impairment of its UK retail estate, which it said reflected the revised outlook for the high street.

In the last two weeks of June, like-for-like revenue was flat, following the reopening of the majority of the company's retail estate

Reduced staking levels in that two weeks had been offset by strong gross win margins, which benefitted from an unseasonal contribution from football.

Chief executive Ulrik Bengtsson said he was 'delighted' with the company's performance 'in these extraordinary times'.

Bengtsson said costs had been controlled effectively during lockdown and that William Hill had recovered well post-lockdown, with good performances in its online businesses throughout the first half.

'We have continued to develop both our technology platform and our product offerings, with more significant enhancements to come in the second half,' h added.

'The balance sheet has been strengthened by the prompt actions we took to keep cash in the business, the successful placing, and the recognition of the VAT refund.'

'As a result, we have the financial strength to confidently pursue our growth agenda, taking advantage of our market leading position in sports betting in the US, and the terrific opportunity that Eldorado's merger with Caesars brings.'

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