British bookmaker William Hill took one more step toward being taken over by Caesars Entertainment on Thursday when shareholders of William Hill voted in favor of the move. Shareholders approved the approximately $3.7 billion cash offer from Caesars by the requisite majorities, with over 86% of those who voted to give the go-ahead to the transaction. However, there is still more work to be done – the English Courts will now have to sign off on the remaining outstanding regulatory conditions before final approval is granted.
Tom Reeg, CEO of Caesars Entertainment, stated: “We are pleased to have received William Hill shareholder support for our recommended cash offer. We continue to work towards satisfying the remaining regulatory conditions and look forward to completing the transaction next year and integrating William Hill US into our Caesars sports betting and iGaming franchise,”
It has been a rapid turnaround process for Caesars since interest in acquiring the third-largest sportsbook in America was initially reported. It was only September that reports surfaced of a potential bidding war between Caesars and New York-based investment firm Apollo Global Management for William Hill’s assets. It was ultimately Caesars’ existing relationship with William Hill that closed the deal.
More on That Existing Relationship
Caesars was a natural and easy fit for William Hill. William Hill and Caesars operate a joint venture in the US legal betting industry, with William Hill currently running online sports betting at Caesars properties in jurisdictions that allow for legal internet sports betting.
Caesars had owned 20% of William Hill’s US anyway. For William Hill to not further align with Caesars would have put those relationships in jeopardy and terminated the William Hill offerings already present in 12 casinos in several states around the country.
William Hill’s Hard Work Is Caesars Gain
William Hill hasn’t been shy about expanding in the exploding US legal sports betting market. The last few months, in particular, have been incredibly productive for the sports betting provider. Already, William Hill was listed, by market share, as the top sportsbook in three of the states they have a presence – Iowa, Nevada, and Rhode Island.
In the months prior to the announcement of the takeover deal, William Hill launched in Illinois and Colorado – two of the more exciting new markets for the legal sports betting industry. Those locales build on William Hill’s presence in Nevada, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Indiana, West Virginia, and Iowa, among others.
Just prior to the sale, William Hill had forged a game-changing relationship with ESPN as well, which would “link integrations from ESPN’s digital platforms to sportsbooks from Caesars Entertainment’s sports betting partner, William Hill.” Having the “Worldwide Leader on Sports” on board is definitely an added perk for Caesars going forward.
William Hill signed an agreement for live casino gaming content with Evolution Gaming in October, they went live in Pennsylvania on October 15, and also came out with plans for their permanent, ground-breaking sportsbook at Capital One Arena in Washington, D.C. At the end of October, William Hill became an official sports betting partner of the Indianapolis Colts. Translation – it has been a busy couple of months for William Hill.
All of that will fall under the Caesars umbrella once the dust settles on this mammoth deal.
Assuming All Hurdles Are Cleared…
The Caesars/William Hill deal will create the largest sportsbook in the US, complete with strong retail and mobile arms. A relationship with ESPN and CBS will also give the “new Caesars” unmatched exposure in the US market. Caesars becomes an instant juggernaut in one of the most bullish industries in America once the dust settles on this massive deal.
More work has to be done, including divesting William Hill’s European assets, which have gained interest from European giant Betfred, among others. Other than that, the mega-deal is on track to completion. Look for the transaction to be fully consummated as early as March 2021.