William Hill Online is to establish a new telephone betting operation based in Gibraltar.

At the same time, the group’s telephone betting subsidiary, William Hill Credit, will close its operation in the UK.

William Hill Online, together with an outsourced service provider, Vertex, a global BPO and customer management outsourcer, will continue to service all William Hill telephone customers. It is proposed that Vertex will take over the Sheffield-based call centre currently run by William Hill Credit and that William Hill Online will also manage customers from Gibraltar.

Customers will benefit from an improved service, including being able to use their telephone betting account for online transactions. William Hill Credit’s second call centre in Leeds will close, with all staff being offered alternative positions. The group has entered into a 90-day period of consultation with those employees affected by the closure.

The group expects to implement these changes during the fourth quarter of 2010, with associated cost savings of approximately £4-7m per annum expected to commence from the start of 2011. The cost of implementation in 2010 is expected to be approximately £7m, of which approximately £5m will be incurred as an exceptional item.

Although William Hill Online is a joint venture between William Hill and Playtech, future telephone business profits/losses will be retained by William Hill, with the exception of an annual telephone betting support fee of £0.5m payable to Playtech.

William Hill’s existing Telephone betting business made a loss of £1.8m in 2009 and a small operating loss is anticipated to be made in the first half of 2010.

Ralph Topping, chief executive of William Hill, commented: “This significant change to our telephone business is a response to the challenge of competing with betting exchanges and offshore telebetting operators, all of whom have benefitted from significant cost and tax advantages over UK bookmakers. This has made it impossible for our existing business to compete profitably from the UK.”