Caesars Entertainment first made an offer to buy William Hill for $3.7 billion around this time last year. However, the Reno-based gaming and entertainment giant had no intention of keeping the UK-based sportsbook’s non-US assets.
Caesars saw this as an excellent opportunity to jump-start its efforts to enter the legal US online sports betting industry. In recent weeks, the company began rebranding its US William Hill properties as Caesars Sportsbook.
In an effort to recoup some of its investment, Caesars also put William Hill’s non-US assets up for sale. This process did not last all that long with 888 Holdings stepping up to the plate. That UK-gaming giant has tendered an offer close to $3 billion in US dollars. This offer equates to 2.2 billion in English pounds.
The only other serious suiter in the bidding process was Apollo Global Management as a private equity firm. However, industry insiders already knew that 888 Holdings was the logical choice.
This deal is a major boost to Caesars’ bottom line as it continues to expand its US operations. The company was able to recoup a sizable portion of its original investment.
This move also makes good business sense for 888 Holdings as it continues to expand its industry presence on a global scale. Company officials are hoping to close on the deal by the first half of 2022.
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William Hill’s strongest regulated markets outside the UK were in the rest of Europe. One of its biggest online casino brands is Mr. Green.
Lord Jon Mendelsohn is 888 Holdings’ Chairman of the Board. He released the following statement in regards to the deal:
“We believe the acquisition will create significant value for shareholder, creating a combined business with leading technology, products and brands across sports betting, gaming and poker, supported by top quality management talent from both businesses.”
He eluded to the fact that adding William Hill would create “a global leader in the online sports betting and gaming industry.”
Based in Gibraltar, 888 will acquire William Hill’s digital sports betting and gaming operations outside the US market. The company will also assume control of more than 1,400 land-based retail sports betting shops in the UK.
It is possible that 888 will look to unload the retail sector and focus all of its energy on digital operations. BetFred was mentioned as a possible buyer of those shops since that UK bookmaker has been exploring opportunities to expand.
The UK retail sector has lost some of its appeals in recent years. Horse racing has fallen off while online sports betting has shown strong growth. Tighter government regulations on fixed-odds terminals at retail shops have been another deterrent to growth.
William Hill was founded in 1934 as a telephone-based betting service. The company expanded into retail shops during the mid-1960s.
Its reign as the biggest sports betting operator in the UK ended with the merger of Ladbrokes and Coral. That combination later became part of the Entain Group.
The deal is still subject to 888 Holdings’ shareholder approval. It will also need to be approved by the UK’s Financial Conduct Authority.