888 Leads The Race For William Hill Non-US Assets

888 Holdings looks set to win the race for William Hill's non-US assets after lodging a near £2 billion ($3.74 billion) bid.

888 Holdings leads the race for the non-US assets of gambling giant William Hill. Experts predicted bids for the assets would top out at £1.5 billion ($2.80 billion), but 888 has blown the opposition out of the water with a £2 billion ($3.74 billion) bid.

Caesars Entertainment purchased William Hill for £2.9 billion ($5.42 billion) in April 2021. However, Caesars had no interest in William Hill’s non-US assets and immediately put them up for sale. William Hill struggled to keep up with bet365 and Ladbrokes in the United Kingdom and Europe pre-pandemic but thrived on American soil.

partypoker owners Entain, CVC Partners, 888, and Apollo Management Group were seen as potential William Hill suitors. Entain pulled out of the running early on, but the other three continued submitting bids.

888 confirmed its bid to the London Stock Exchange, but urged investors to exercise caution in the news stories.

“888 notes the recent press speculation and confirms that it is in advanced discussions with Caesars Entertainment, Inc. regarding a possible acquisition of the international (non-US) business of William Hill

“There can be no certainty that these advanced discussions will result in a transaction. A further announcement will be made as and when appropriate.”

Why Does 888 Want William Hill’s Non-Us Assets?

Acquiring William Hill’s non-US assets is a massive financial risk for 888 but also a significant strategic step. William Hill has a vast database of millions of customers which 888 would then own, each one a potential 888 customers.

Furthermore, getting hold of William Hill gives 888 more power in the sports betting market, something it isn’t known for. People think of online casinos, bingo, and online poker when they think of 888, not sports betting. This is the case despite 888 enjoying 35.7% increase in sports revenue to US$122.1 million.

888 launched its first US sportsbook in conjunction with Sports Illustrated in Colorado this week. It launched perfectly in time for the start of the new NFL season on September 9.

Experts predict 888 will sell William Hill’s estate of 1,400 betting shops should its bid be successful. The company has no plans to go into retail venues, especially when its expertise lay in the online gaming world. Selling the betting shops further lowers the price it pays for the non-US assets. British bookmaker Betfred has long wanted to acquire more shops, so would be a frontrunner for the estate.

Mr Green is one company 888 hopes to get its hands on. William Hill paid almost £250 million ($466.97 million) in January 2019. Mr Green, an online casino, boasts of more than 1,000 pokies, from the likes of IGT, NetEnt, Quickspin, Microgaming, and more. Adding Mr Green to the 888casino would be a major coup.

Move Comes Around Full Circle

It is quite ironic that this deal is at the stage it is right now. It may never have happened if both companies had got their wishes in 2015 and 2016.

William Hill made 888 a target in 2015, and lodged a £750 million ($1.4 billion) bid for its rival. 888 rejected the move due to the offer undervaluing the business.

888 joined forces with Rank Group the following year and made a join £3.2 billion ($5.97 billion) bid for William Hill. However, William Hill rejected this bid on the same grounds of undervaluing the business.

This latest move will not be the last in the gambling world as the industry continues consolidating. MGM Resorts pulled the plug on a potential £8 billion ($14.93 billion) move for Entain in January. Merger and acquisition rules in the United Kingdom meant MGM was banned from making another approach for six months. That ban is now lapsed so another bid could be imminent.