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William Hill (businessman)

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William Hill (businessman)

William Hill (16 July 1903 - 15 October 1971) was the founder of William Hill, one of the United Kingdom's largest firms of bookmakers.

Career

Born in Birmingham, William Hill left school at the age of twelve to work on his uncle's farm.[1] While working in a factory in Birmingham he started collecting illegal bets from local people on his motorcycle.[1] In 1919, Hill joined the Black and Tans while underage and was stationed in Mallow, County Cork, Ireland.[2] He set up as an on-course bookmaker in 1925 but quickly lost his capital.

After the hopeless failure of his first foray into bookmaking, he moved to London in 1929 where he started taking bets on greyhounds before opening an illicit gambling den in Jermyn Street in 1934.[1] He exploited a loophole which allowed credit or postal betting but not cash.[3] In 1944 he produced the first fixed-odds football coupon.[1] In 1954 he reversed his business into Holder's Investment Trust, a shell company, thereby securing a listing on the London Stock Exchange.[1]

Although he had called legal betting offices "a cancer on society" he opened his first in 1966,[4] after his competitors had stolen a march on him.[3]

He was also interested in breeding horses and in 1943 bought a stud at Whitsbury in Hampshire.[1] Hill bred and owned Cantelo, a filly who won the St. Leger Stakes in 1959.[5] He retired in 1970[6] and died in Newmarket the following year.[1]

Family

In 1923 he married Ivy Burley and together they had one daughter.[1]

References


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