As coronavirus Covid-19 transforms, and in some cases devastates, the betting landscape, British gaming houses with their expertise in online and sports betting are poised to make a killing.
This in great part explains the current bidding war surrounding legacy UK bookies William Hill, the owner of over 1,500 high street betting shops but most importantly also a world leader in online sports wagering.
US-based Caesars Entertainment Inc.—owners of the iconic Caesars Palace casino in Vegas—has currently tabled a £2.9b bid for the British bookies — in counter to a predatory approach by Apollo Management, an American private equity firm.
Given that Caesars already owns a 20 per cent share in the British company’s stateside vehicle, William Hill US, it would appear that they are favourites in this game of high-stakes takeover.
With the significant falls in income and through-put for land-based, real-world casinos around the world, because of coronavirus lock-downs, and subsequent restrictive reopening protocols, online gaming and sports betting are emerging as principal saviours for gambling conglomerates.
A point emphasised this week by Caesars Chief Executive Tom Reeg amid the feeding frenzy.
“The opportunity to combine our land based-casinos, sports betting and online gaming in the US is a truly exciting prospect,” he said.
“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.
“We look forward to working with William Hill to support future growth in the US by providing our customers with a superior and comprehensive experience across all areas of gaming, sports betting, and entertainment,” said the Caesars chief.
In latest pricing, William Hill shares have surged by 42 per cent to 312p.
Apollo, meantime, is yet to publish details of its putative offer for William Hill.
But Caesars, because of existing synergies with the UK bookmaker, remains the likely victor.