Caesars buys William Hill in £2.9 billion acquisition deal

Cvetanka Cvetanovska | Published 2 Oct 2020, 2:41 p.m.

Just a few days after it was publicly announced that Caesars Entertainment has a serious interest in buying William Hill’s UK properties, they’ve sealed the deal and purchased the British bookmaker for £2.9 billion.

This purchase puts Caesars in a favourable position and gives control of the expanding U.S sports betting industry. It is expected to close during the second half of 2021, with mandatory anti-trust and regulatory approval before being finalised.

Tom Reeg, the CEO of Caesars, said that the opportunity to combine land-based casinos, sports betting and US gaming in the U.S is an exciting opportunity. The industry’s expertise of William Hill will complement and contribute to Caesars current offers, enabling the best offers for their audience.

Caesars focuses on the US gambling and betting market

Caesars said they expect its sports and online gaming business in the US to generate between £460 and £560 million in net revenue in 2021. The strategic focus would be on expanding and capitalising U.S market opportunities. The company plans to sell its UK and international businesses, saying they intend to seek suitable partners or owners who have aligned objectives and are focused on the long term growth and benefit of its customers. As an industry retrospective, Eldorado Resorts bought Caesars in a £14 billion deal that was finalised this year in July. The combined company operates under the Caesars Entertainment brand and trades publicly on Nasdaq under CZR.

Roger Devlin, the chairman of William Hill said that in terms of their UK and international businesses, they believe in the potential they have and they’ll work with Caesars to find suitable partners to further the long-term growth potential of this business. The board of William Hill believes this is the best solution at an attractive price for shareholders. This move recognises their significant progress over the last 18 months, as well as the risk and required investment required to maximise U.S opportunities, given the high competition in the US and potential regulatory disruption in the U.K and Europe. Founded in 1934, William Hill is one of the largest sports betting companies worldwide, with offices in 10 countries.

888 interested in buying William Hill’s European operations

Online gambling operator 888 Holdings has shown an interest in buying William Hill’s non-US operations. The CEO of 888 Itai Pazner said that their company is in an excellent position to make acquisitions and that a bid for William Hill’s non-US assets could benefit in the long run. Currently, William Hill runs over 1000 retail betting shops and provides online gambling services in the UK. Moreover, it has representative market holders in Spain, Sweden and Italy.

Pazner said that while it’s too early to say anything in advance, they’ll closely follow the happenings on the market. He added that they’d look at any relevant industry assets and if that is purchasing the non-US operations of William Hill, they’ll surely try to take the chance.  

In early 2015 William Hill and 888 have discussed a possible business combination. Willam Hill made an offer to acquire 888 in a deal valued at £700 million, but the negotiations stopped after one of 888’s most prominent investors asked for a higher bid. While 888 shows a public interest, Betfred Inc. looks at their company’s betting shop portfolio. For now, Mr Pazner says that every option is open, but for now, they are all just theoretical scenarios.

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