The historical European brand William Hill becomes American: what’s Caesars’ plan?

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Online gambling in the United States has been off to a slow start compared to other regions, particularly European countries, like Italy. With online gambling legal in the US in less than 20 states, the acceleration of the online gambling industry has been slow indeed.

That should all change with the recent William Hill acquisition that took place between two giants within the gaming industry, Caesar’s Entertainment, US and William Hill, UK.

Caesars Entertainment Inc. took a massive leap when it acquired William Hill PLC in April of this year for an estimated $4 billion. The hefty price tag paid by Caesars Entertainment for ownership of the leading betting and gambling company practically guarantees Caesars will see a steep rise in profits from online gambling.

The plans for William Hill after the acquisition

With over 1,400 brick-and-mortar betting shops under the name William Hill, the brand is infamous in the UK and mainland European countries like Spain and Italy. Since 1934 the William Hill name had been the dominating player within the global gambling industry, first with brick-and-mortar locals and then online.

Since the acquisition, which took place in April 2021, the UK-based gambling giant 888 Holdings has already agreed on a deal worth an estimated $3 Billion for the purchase of William Hill’s European business operations. When it was shared that Caesars would be selling William Hill’s European business operations, a bidding war soon ensued, with 888 Holding leading the deal.

Luckily the team at 888 Holding, which recently acquired William Hill UK and Europe holdings, have planned to honor the real estate portfolio ensuring more than 1,400 betting locations remain open throughout the UK and Europe. Chief Executive of 888, Itai Pazner stated: “We are also excited about the opportunities that the retail business provides and see significant brand benefits to the enlarged group from its large estate.”

The expanding of the online gaming industry amongst US states was a significant part of Caesars’ game plan and strategy. The casino-giant had always anticipated the selling of the non-US companies of their newly acquired William Hill portfolio.

Since the acquisition of William Hill, which took place in April, Caesars has already sold the UK-Europe portfolio to the highest bidder. It’s much anticipated to see what the London-listed company, 888 Holdings, will do with the famed William Hills brand.

In a deal worth £2 billion, William Hill is still focused on its customers, it’s 1.400 locations, and it’s more than 12,000 employees. The chief executive of William Hill, Ulrik Bengtsson said: “The William Hill and 888 strategies are highly complementary with an absolute focus on the product and customer experience.”

Why expanding in America?

Despite the US online gambling industry taking significant time to gain traction and public approval, compared to the upward and immediate trend seen in Europe, the approval ratings are starting to pick up.

The acquisition of William Hill by Caesars Entertainment has allowed for an entirely new audience to be reached within the sports betting market, which should mean billions in the long-term for Caesars.

“This purchase gives us ownership of one of the world’s leading betting and gambling companies and gives the company the ability to maximize the opportunity within sports betting and online gaming in the U.S.”, said Caesars chief executive Tom Reeg.

With new states consistently being added to the list of those legalizing sports betting and online gambling, it’s no wonder Caesars would vie to be the leading player in these new and untouched markets.

It was just under three years ago that the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992 was repealed, allowing individual states to be able to vote on the legalization of online gambling. This repeal allowed for more markets to potentially open with more states legalizing online betting and gambling.

Where is William Hill famous?

Despite mergers and acquisitions, the infamous William Hill brand will always hold a tremendous value across Europe and UK for having been the global online gambling titans of their time. It can be confirmed that William Hill was one of the first companies to launch online sports betting and gaming services back in 1998.

Luckily for the over 175 countries where William Hill thrived, countries like Italy, where the company had a huge stake in online betting and gaming culture with William Hill Italy, the access to online betting and gaming will still continue with sustainability plans from the team at 888 Holdings.

It was back in 2011 that William Hill anticipated the Italian market’s potential, and they were not wrong. Currently, the Italian gaming and betting industry is estimated to over 13 billion euros. With the closure of many of the gambling venues, betting shops and casinos due to COVID, the Gross Gaming Revenue of Italy lost in the billions compared to years before.

New mergers, acquisitions and industry strategies are certain to keep this space competitive and disruptive, especially with new leaders emerging almost monthly.

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Founded in 1994 by the late Pamela Hulse Andrews, Cascade Business News (CBN) became Central Oregon’s premier business publication. CascadeBusNews.com • CBN@CascadeBusNews.com

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