Iconic British bookmaker William Hill is set to take a massive step into the American gambling marketplace after shareholders voted in favour of a takeover offer by Caesars Entertainment. The vote occurred only two months after the proposal was first aired in public.
The $3.69 billion all-cash offer was endorsed by William Hill’s board in late September. Shareholders voted earlier this week in favour of the deal by a huge majority, with 86% of them submitting votes that were positive.
The acquisition is set to be properly closed sometime in the first quarter of 2021. The whole process has moved very swiftly indeed, with William Hill having confirmed receipt of overtures in September. But speculation that something was afoot started around 12 months before that.
Back then, Caesars CEO Tom Reeg outlined how the iGaming and sports betting sectors in the USA were developing. Many analysts speculated at the time that that could mean a joint venture between William Hill and Caesars was likely, with 20% of the equity likely to be spun off to the public.
Reeg is delighted with the deal, and is relishing taking William Hill more completely into the US gambling marketplace.
“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,” he said in an official statement.
William Hill’s way into the deal came via a previous agreement with Eldorado. The UK operator is already entitled to run the casino operator’s domestic sportsbooks. That includes sportsbooks gained via acquisitions.
The acquisition is the first such deal made by ‘new Caesars’, but William Hill has some history with ‘new Caesars’ too. Old Caesars actually made a bid worth $3.8 million for William Hill in 2019.
The sports betting sector in the USA is growing very rapidly indeed at the moment. There were more ventures than Caesars interested in acquiring the British operator, especially given that they hold some highly appealing European assets.
Reeg used some leverage to compel William Hill to accept the Caesars offer, though, stating that the agreement between the companies would be scrapped if William Hill accepted another proposal.
The deal will now create the biggest sportsbook operator in the USA. William Hill is already the third-biggest provider of online sportsbook betting services in the United States. That will certainly help to bolster Caesars’ online gambling footprint.
In terms of market share, William Hill is the leading sportsbook provider in terms of market share in at least three of the US states in which it is licensed to operate. Those states are Iowa, Nevada, and Rhode Island.
Once the deal has been completed, Caesars will continue to use its own branding for retail books. William Hill will be used at their other sports betting locations, however.
Given how Caesars is reportedly keen to focus on its American business, the deal may also mean that they will divest William Hill’s European product once the purchase is complete. That European business is currently valued at $2 billion to $4 billion.