BUSINESS

Nevada acquisitions may be a step back for William Hill

TAGs: American Wagering, Nevada, US, William Hill

British bookmaker William HillBritish bookmaker William Hill has made a step forward in the United States with two acquisitions. William Hill have taken on 100% of the equity interests in American Wagering Inc. as well as acquiring the Club Cal Neva Satellite Race and Sportsbook Division in a deal that is worth around $39m.

In 2010, American Wagering launched Leroy’s App, which allows residents of Nevada to partake in intra-state sports betting via their mobile phone.

Ralph Topping, Chief Executive of William Hill, said: “AWI and Cal Neva are first-class operators and leaders in the US sportsbook industry. We see significant opportunities for growth by investing in Nevada and by combining our substantial product range with their extensive Nevada footprint, strong relationships, proven operational capability and trusted service. We look forward to working with our new colleagues at both companies to grow a leadership position in the Nevada gaming industry and beyond.

“We are excited about the potential for expansion of our company into the US betting market and, in particular, into Nevada, which sets the gold standard. This is a great development opportunity for William Hill, one of the world’s oldest and most trusted sports-betting operators, and we look forward to serving the American casino market and reaching out to new customers.”

What the deal will mean though is that this public company will now have its hands tied even more than they had already. It will also limit their ability to compete in the world’s biggest markets and all this so that they can simply take relatively small sports bets in Nevada.

Before the deal can be fully completed, the Nevada Gaming Commission (NGC) must license William Hill and members of the senior management team. It’s proposed that this will be completed at some point next year, and the transaction will be made legally complete.

In agreeing to this they will effectively be allowing their organization to be governed by the regulations set by the NGC. This decision could have an adverse effect as they may miss out on the opportunity to expand into far more lucrative markets on offer in Asia, for example Macau.

The deal will create another problem for William Hill in that sports’ betting isn’t going to be allowed in the US, outside of Nevada, in our lifetime. The deal smacks of balderdash and there’s nothing that really makes a lot of sense about it in the slightest.

Before they made the acquisition they had a UK license that carried a deal more credibility than one in Nevada as the credibility that comes with the Nevada license they will find hard to use.

The restrictions they’ve piled on themselves with this deal will never let them get into the most rewarding markets in the US and Asia, especially China, and represents a rusty nail in their chances at being in every one of the biggest global gaming markets.

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