888 Wants William Hill’s Non-US Assets

October 05, 2020

- Grant Whittington

Word on the street is that online casino games giant 888 Holdings is interested in acquiring U.K. sports book giant William Hill’s non-U.S. operations. This is obviously on condition that Caesars Entertainment’s £2.9 billion take-over bid is accepted by William Hill’s shareholders.

According to 888 Holdings Chief Executive Itai Pazner, 888 is currently in a prime position to make the type of offer it seems intent on tabling opposite the bookmaker. He also said that acquiring William Hill’s non-U.S. operations and assets are regarded as potentially lucrative a bid to his company.

Pazner made 888 Holdings’ interest in acquiring said assets official by way of a company statement shortly after William Hill on Wednesday revealed that it had recommended Caesar’s now-tabled offer to its board of directors.

Caesar’s Plan On The Table

Caesars Entertainment by way of its offer to William Hill and its board of directors revealed that, if successful in its bid, it would focus specifically and first-off on the bookmaker’s U.S. assets, and that following that, it would proceed to scout for and source “suitable partners or owners” for William Hill’s business endeavours, assets, and commercial interests in the U.K. and in wider Europe.

When William Hill first entered the U.S. entertainment and gaming markets in 2012, sports betting was limited mostly to the state of Nevada. But following the abolishment of the ban on professional and amateur sports betting in 2018, the bookmaking giant almost immediately secured a major partnership alongside Eldorado Resorts. William Hill ultimately ended up named the official exclusive sportsbook partner to Eldorado Resorts.

How It All Fits Together

Significant to note too is that Eldorado Resorts and Caesars Entertainment amalgamated earlier this year. This led to the expanded group practically inheriting the partnership forged between William Hill and Eldorado Resorts. As a result of this “inheritance”, Caesars Entertainment currently already owns a 20 per cent stake in William Hill, U.S.

William Hill remains one of the largest and most prominent bookies in the world, and in particular in the UK and Europe – with significant inroads recently made into the exploding U.S. sports betting market also. Back home in the United Kingdom, William Hill owns and operates at least 1,400 retail high-street betting shops. In addition to also serving a domestic U.K. market, the sports betting giant also serves additional world markets in several other European countries, including Spain, Sweden, and Italy.

Past Attempts To Link Up

Since the Pazner-led 888 Holdings has its own focus first and foremost on the online gambling industry, it stands to reason that the company would not have too much interest in acquiring the retail betting side of the bookie’s U.K.-based high-street operations. But since these are early days yet, with nothing yet written in ink, it remains to be seen what the nature of 888’s approach will be pertaining to retail betting in the event that it does table an official offer to acquire the bookmaking giant’s U.K. operations.

Notable too is that this isn’t the first time William Hill and 888 Holdings have entered into possible takeover talks. In fact, twice in the past has the conversation been put to table. Back in 2015, William Hill offered to acquire 888 Holdings as part of a £700 million takeover bid. The talks in question however fell through resulting from one of the latter’s biggest investors having requested a higher purchase offer.

Then, not even a year later in 2016, 888 Holdings linked up with The Rank Group in order to table an offer to acquire William Hill. That particular deal never came to fruition either.

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