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William Hill to close online operations in Israel

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William Hill is to close its online operations in Israel and reportedly lay off more than 200 of the company’s 250 employees based in Tel Aviv.

Leaprate.com, which broke the story, revealed that the company’s offices at the Azrieli Towers, Tel Aviv, will also be vacated. 

Commenting on the move a William Hill spokesman told iGaming Business: “Our colleagues in Tel Aviv have made an excellent contribution to the success of William Hill Online and we are grateful for their hard work over the years. 

“London, Leeds, Gibraltar and Krakow are already important hubs for William Hill and by locating more of our digital operations in Europe we will work smarter and more efficiently.  Importantly it will mean we can further improve Williamhill.com and be even more responsive to customers particularly in the core UK market.

“A number of colleagues in the Tel Aviv operation will be offered relocation packages to William Hill in London, Gibraltar and Krakow. William Hill currently have offices in Wood Green and Shoreditch and will establish a new central London office hub later this year combining its current Shoreditch operation and functions formerly located in Tel Aviv. “

Although Israel is a hub for the igaming industry, the recent strengthening of the Shekel, combined with the rising cost of real estate and low unemployment, has made Israel a much more expensive business prospect than in the past.

Richard Stuber, an analyst from Numis Securities, said in a note this week that William Hill had also suffered due to customer friendly football results in the first half of the year.

He said: “coupled with additional central costs, we are therefore cutting our FY17 EBIT by £29m (10%) to £251m, which is 8% below consensus. Furthermore, there are already headwinds building for FY18; as well as new likely rules on FOBT stakes, the CMA is focusing on on-line practises, and Australia has proposed the banning of credit betting (c.30% of amounts wagered).”

William Hill began operating in Israel in 2008, when it created William Hill Online as a joint venture with Playtech. William Hill bought out Playtech from the joint venture in 2013 for £424m.

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