William Hill eyes Tote sale and dismisses competition rules

City A.M. Reporter
BRITAIN’S biggest bookmaker William Hill yesterday said it would consider buying state-owned betting firm the Tote, dismissing current UK competition rules which could rule it out as a buyer as “archaic”.

“We would be very interested in looking at any opportunity to expand our UK retail footprint through acquisition, including the sale of the Tote,” the company said in a statement emailed yesterday.

William Hill added that current competition rules governing bookmakers in Britain did not take account of the global nature of the betting market and called on the UK’s regulator to rethink its approach.

“We believe that the Office of Fair Trading needs to revisit the archaic competition tests which have looked at the market in terms of betting shops - the true market is a global one that includes online and betting exchanges.”

The government said on Wednesday that the sale of the Tote would be launched in late autumn, as part of a wider sale of government assets, and that the sale would be “an open market process” inviting proposals from “all interested parties”.

Paddy Power and Ladbrokes, both rivals of William Hill, have previously said they could be interested in buying the Tote.