William Hill today said it has given the green light to be acquired by Caesars Entertainment, in a £2.9bn deal that would hand the US casino giant a huge boost in America’s rapidly expanding sports betting industry.
“The William Hill board believes this is the best option for William Hill at an attractive price for shareholders,” said William Hill chairman Roger Devlin.
“It recognises the significant progress the William Hill Group has made over the last 18 months, as well as the risk and significant investment required to maximise the US opportunity given intense competition in the US.”
William Hill said it would continue to operate “business as usual” while the deal undergoes regulatory scrutiny, and said its UK operations still has “a strong future ahead”.
Caesars today said “the historic acquisition would bring together Caesars as one of the largest gaming-entertainment companies in the US… and William Hill as one of the world’s leading betting and gambling companies.”
Caesars earlier this week put forward a cash offer of 272p per share for the British bookmaker, marking a 57.6 per cent premium on its closing price at the start of the month.
William Hill’s board of directors on Monday said the offer “is at a price level that they would be minded to recommend” to shareholders.
The acquisition will now be put forward to William Hill shareholders at the company’s next general meeting, where it must be given majority approval to be put into action.
The takeover by Caesars, which owns Las Vegas’ iconic hotel and casino Caesars Palace, would mark a significant expansion across the Atlantic for William Hill, after a challenging period during the pandemic.
In August, the company announced it would close 119 of its 1,500 UK stores as the pandemic hammered advertising revenue.
Tom Reeg, chief executive of Caesars, said: “The opportunity to combine our land based-casinos, sports betting and online gaming in the US is a truly exciting prospect.
“William Hill’s sports betting expertise will complement Caesars’ current offering, enabling the combined group to better serve our customers in the fast growing US sports betting and online market.”
The US’ sports betting and online gaming sector has ballooned in recent years after state legislation on gambling was relaxed, with analysts estimating the market to be now worth a potential $30bn to $35bn.
Caesars today said it expects its joint venture with William Hill could generate revenue of $600m to $700m over the next financial year.