William Hill appoints chief digital officer as CEO

William Hill has appointed its chief digital officer to CEO.

In a push to embrace online, Ulrik Bengtsson will replace Philip Bowcock in the top job at the end of this month. This appoint is the company’s third new chief executive in just over three years, as the UK bookmaker decided new leadership was needed to spearhead its push into online gambling.

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A changing industry

The bookmaking industry is changing. There’s a rise in competition, tougher regulations and a pressure to sieze on the opportunities of the US market. On top of this, the physical is making way to the digital. In July, for example, William Hill announced it would close close 700 of its 2,300 bookmaking shops across the UK.

To lead the company into the digital-first future it makes sense to appoint someone who has technical experience to the position of CEO, which is exactly what Roger Devlin, William Hill’s chairman, has done.

In a statement, he said that “having overseen the group’s digital operations for 18 months … [Mr Bengtsson] knows the business well and is ideally suited to lead our next phase of growth”.

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A sign of the times?

Tim Dunton, MD, Nimbus Hosting, commented: “It’s encouraging that a FTSE 250 company sees an executive with digital skills as a good bet for CEO. With online services at the epicentre of the modern bookmaking industry, having someone in the driving seat who understands the power of algorithms, data and infrastructure to take a business forward is critical. In time we are likely to see many more IT experts reach the top in listed companies, as shareholders and senior executives recognise the true importance of digital transformation for staying ahead of the competition.”

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Nick Ismail

Nick Ismail is a former editor for Information Age (from 2018 to 2022) before moving on to become Global Head of Brand Journalism at HCLTech. He has a particular interest in smart technologies, AI and...

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Chief Digital Officer