William Hill plc is a bookmaker based in London, England. It is listed on the London Stock Exchange and is a constituent of the FTSE 250 Index. The company was founded by William Hill in 1934 at a time when gambling was illegal in Britain. It changed hands many times, being acquired by Sears Holdings in 1971, then by Grand Metropolitan in 1988, then by Brent Walker in 1989.In September 1996, Brent Walker recouped £117m of the £685m it had paid for William Hill when Grand Metropolitan were found to have exaggerated the company’s profits at the time of the sale. The company operates worldwide, employing approximately 16,601 people with main offices in the UK, Republic of Ireland and Gibraltar, offering betting by phone and Internet together with their 2300 UK-wide Licensed Betting Offices. They are the largest UK operator, representing around 25 per cent of the market throughout the UK and Ireland. The company owns 2,300 betting shops.