UK bookies William Hill are reportedly negotiating an acquisition of Australian bookie Tom Waterhouse’s operations. Sources told the Australian Financial Review that the deal price could hit A$150m (US $136m), although other sources told eGamingReview that the price was thought to be significantly less. Hills already has a significant Aussie presence following its acquisition of Sportingbet’s lucrative down-under dealings earlier this year. Interestingly, both Hills’ CEO Ralph Topping and Sportingbet CEO Michael Sullivan were among the chorus of Waterhouse’s competitors who took the young bookie to the woodshed this year over his exuberant pimping of live odds during National Rugby League broadcasts.
In November, Waterhouse insisted he intended to keep his company under Australian control, but just months later, Waterhouse’s operations were the subject of acquisition rumors by UK bookies Ladbrokes, rumors that Lads subsequently denied. Bwin.party, which similarly lacks an Australian presence, was also bandied about as a possible contender. Meanwhile, competitors Bet365, Betfair and Paddy Power have already established beachheads on Australian soil. In March, Topping suggested there were “long odds against” Ladbrokes entering the Aussie market and even if they did “they would make a hash of it.” So did Topping poison the well for Lads?
EVERY KIOSK HAS A SILVER LINING
As Hills prepares to boost its Aussie profile, its US business took a haircut on Sunday. That was the deadline Nevada legislators had established for the removal of the state’s betting kiosks, following passage of legislation in May banning kiosks from operating in pubs and clubs holding restricted gambling licenses. William Hill US had over 80 of the machines in operation across Nevada, but the company is doing its best to find the silver lining.
Hills’ US biz-dev director Dan Shapiro told the Las Vegas Review-Journal that the company was “repositioning” about half its kiosks as “mobile sports deposit hotspots.” Customers won’t be able to make wagers or withdraw money, but they can deposit funds into their Hills accounts, then use Hills’ mobile sportsbook app to place their wagers. Shapiro said the company had “switched” a lot of the kiosk customers to the mobile offering, but Hills has no plans to expand its hotspot presence beyond the 44 machines still in operation. Fellow Nevada sportsbook operator Cantor Gaming has closed its ‘sign-up stations’ that served similar functions as kiosks but were manned by an actual human being.