In 2007 TNS (a global research company) estimated that around 26% of online bettors in the UK have a William Hill account. With 240, 000 regular customers, we therefore estimate that there are around 950, 000 customers who bet online. Online betting has a socio-demographic profile that in many ways reflects the medium, with a bias towards younger, ABC1 males. This finding is endorsed by the Gambling Commission’s analysis which found that: ‘There were a number of significant socio-demographic differences between internet gamblers and non-internet gamblers. Internet gamblers were more likely to be male, relatively young adults, single, well educated, and in professional/managerial employment.
Along with other UK companies, William Hill's ambitions on an international scale are limited by a complicated and ever-changing legal and regulatory situation in Europe. A high proportion of gaming industries in the EU are protected monopolies within their national boundaries. These monopolies are formally justified by the member states in question on the basis that such market constraints protect their citizens from problem gambling. The EU's policy of the free movement of goods and services has often been used to challenge these state-owned gambling monopolies by online gaming companies wanting to operate in these markets.
Some countries have therefore amended their gambling laws to bring them in line with EU principles, while there are several others, including Germany, France, Holland and Denmark that are currently under pressure from the European Commission to follow suit. Gambling – particularly on sporting events – is ingrained in our culture. You can find references to it by historians throughout the ages as far back as Herodotus, Western culture’s ‘Father of History’.
The English language is peppered with phrases we use without thinking about which stem from our love of gambling – ‘you bet’, ‘I bet you are’, ‘put your money where your mouth is’.