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exterior of William Hill shop

William Hill’s UK betting shops reportedly set for sale following Caesars takeover

Not long after completing one of the biggest takeovers in the betting industry, Caesars Entertainment reportedly plans to sell off most of William Hill’s UK and European assets.

The American hotel and casino company completed a $3.7 billion (£2.9 billion) purchase of William Hill in April, and Caesars will follow through with their intent to focus on their new interests in the United States.

The BBC reported in September that alternative investment manager firm, Apollo Global Management, had also made a bid for William Hill, but Caesars warned accepting that bid would “jeopardise a joint-venture between them”.

Plans to sell include around 1,400 brick-and-mortar betting shops, according to Yogonet.com, which are estimated at around $2.1 billion (£1.5 billion) and would recoup more than half of their initial investment.

It’s understood William Hill’s online enterprise in the United Kingdom and mainland Europe would also be part of the sale, which has already attracted several high-profile bidders.

William Hill was founded in 1934 and has long been among the most dominant forces in the UK gambling landscape.

The company was listed on the London Stock Exchange prior to being bought out by Caesars last month, although net revenue did drop 16% in the 12 months leading up to March.

The British bookmaker offers markets on a range of sports from around the world but was most well-known for European and British competitions like the Premier League.

MM covered Manchester City’s success in winning a third Premier League crown in four seasons earlier in May, annually one of the most wagered events in the UK market.

However, William Hill’s UK presence could be set to diminish with the sale of much of their land-based sites and digital businesses.

Apollo Global Management are one of those companies already said to be in the auction for William Hill UK Sports betting assets, while Betfred and 888 Holdings – the company that owns numerous businesses and websites under the ‘888’ brand – are said to be rival bidders.

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

“We are thrilled to complete the acquisition of William Hill, combining two of the premier operations in the sports betting and iGaming industries under one roof.”

Caesars already owned a 20% stake in William Hill’s U.S operations, with 170 brick-and-mortar sites open across 13 states at the time of the takeover.

William Hill already signalled their intent to keep many betting shops shut after coronavirus lockdown restrictions have eased, declaring it didn’t expect customers to return in the same numbers.

Many of the company’s U.S-based businesses are based inside casino sites, guaranteeing a certain level of footfall that their UK counterparts simply cannot.

Sports betting is a growing industry in the United States, which repealed the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992 three years ago, allowing individual states to determine their own legislation in regards to gambling.

American gambling firms have thus taken an increasing interest in UK-based betting business in their efforts to expand, with Caesars hoping to tighten their grip on the market by focusing on U.S interests.

Image © AcabashiCreative Commons CC-BY-SA 4.0; Source: Wikimedia Commons

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