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Betting firm hit by football results

WILLIAM Hill became the latest bookmaker to warn over the impact of last week's football results as it revealed a loss of around £13 million after the top seven English Premier League teams all secured victories.

The UK's biggest bookie said it lost out to punters in its "otherwise very attractive accumulator", comparing the result to the day in 1996 when jockey Frankie Dettori won all of his seven races at Ascot.

It cautioned there was "no certainty" it could offset the impact, but added it should benefit from buoyed confidence among punters at the start of the season and ahead of the World Cup in June.

Rival Ladbrokes has already said the Premier League wins had likely cost the betting industry between £25 million and £30 million, while Coral revealed it was the worst weekend in its 88-year history.

In its fourth quarter update, William Hill posted strong growth, with revenues from controversial fixed odds betting machines increasing significantly - up 24% in the 13 weeks to December 31.

Labour last week demanded tighter controls on these machines, claiming they have allowed betting shops to become "mini casinos". Shares in William Hill were hit hard as Prime Minister David Cameron signalled a potential crackdown on them, saying he was willing to work with the Opposition to address any problems.

Known as so-called "crack cocaine" betting machines, they can result in users losing up to £300 a minute, because unlike traditional fruit machines in pubs and amusement arcades, punters can gamble up to £100 every 20 seconds, attracted by payouts of up to £500.

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