Caesars Entertainment has agreed to a $3.7 billion takeover deal of British firm William Hill.
The agreement, announced Wednesday, expands the American casino behemoth’s reach in the US sports betting market.
Caesars will now control a joint venture between the two parties that was 80% owned by William Hill. The deal shows Caesars’ faith in a sports betting industry it believes to be on the cusp of revenue explosions.
The deal could create some change in Indiana’s betting landscape, as it does involve familiar names and properties.
Caesars motivated by expected industry growth
The sale is expected to be finalized in the latter part of 2021, following needed government approvals. It also requires support from 75% of William Hill’s stockholders. It totals $2.9 billion in British pounds.
Caesars has cited a recent analysis estimating a market size in the American sports betting industry that could range from $30 billion to $35 billion as the impetus behind its agreement with William Hill.
Even if the industry doesn’t grow at that pace, it is expected to expand rapidly as legalizations spread across different regions in the US.
The takeover is also the logical next step following the two sides’ existing joint venture.
William Hill currently utilizes Caesars’ market access to operate online sports betting functions, while also using its brick and mortar sites. William Hill is the No. 1 sportsbook operator in America.
Now, Caesars believes, a boost in assets and a combination of media power – Caesars with ESPN and William Hill with CBS Sports – will provide a significant brand boost.
Caesars will likely sell William Hill’s foreign holdings. Actions taken by the British government limiting betting terminal charges had a significantly negative effect on William Hill’s business there.
William Hill chairman Roger Devlin noted in a statement:
“It recognizes the significant progress the William Hill Group has made over the last 18 months, as well as the risk and significant investment required to maximize the US opportunity given intense competition in the US and the potential for regulatory disruption in the UK and Europe.”
William Hill calls move ‘the best option’
Unsurprisingly, both sides have presented the agreement as a boon for future business and good news for stakeholders.
“The opportunity to combine our land based-casinos, sports betting and online gaming in the US is a truly exciting prospect,” said Caesars Entertainment CEO Tom Reeg in a statement.
“William Hill’s sports betting expertise will complement Caesars’ current offering, enabling the combined group to serve our customers in the fast-growing US sports betting and online market.”
Reeg said the two sides will work together “to support future growth in the US” in gaming and sports betting.
Devlin, meanwhile, said that “for now, it is very much business as usual.”
He said the company believes its sale is “the best option” at an “attractive price for shareholders.”
Much of the American optimism follows the success of sportsbooks like DraftKings, whose stock growth has been a major storyline of 2020.
What will the impact be in Indiana?
The takeover could have some sports betting implications in Indiana.
Both Caesars and William Hill have a presence in the state.
For example, William Hill has partnered with Tropicana Evansville to provide The Sports Book for in-person wagering inside the casino. It is William Hill’s only Indiana sportsbook.
Tropicana Evansville has said a William Hill mobile app “will be available in Indiana soon.”
Caesars, meanwhile, offers The Book at Caesars Southern Indiana, along with other sportsbooks at:
- Harrah’s Hoosier Park
- Horseshoe Hammond
- Indiana Grand
- Winner’s Circle (Indianapolis, Clarksville, New Haven)
Caesars joined the rapidly growing Indiana market in May with the launch of its mobile sportsbook app.
At the time, it was the seventh Indiana sports betting app to launch.
William Hill has yet to launch an app in the state, although it received its license back in 2019. What makes things even more messy, is that Tropicana Evansville will likely be sold by Caesars as part of its recent merger with Eldorado Resorts.
William Hill needs a casino partner to launch in the state. If William Hill has to partner with another of the Caesars properties, it would have to restart the licensing process.
It could be some time before Indiana sees the William Hill sports betting app live in the state, if it ever does.