After lots of rumors, finally, casino-entertainment company Caesars Entertainment has confirmed an agreement to sell the non-U.S. assets of William Hill International to online betting and gaming company 888 Holdings for approximately £2.2 billion (USD 3 billion). The transaction is subject to receipt of the approval of shareholders of 888 Holdings and regulatory approvals. Caesars’ expectation is that the operation should close during the first quarter of 2022.
From the buyer’s perspective, the combination of 888 and WHI will deliver significant operating efficiencies, including pre-tax cost synergies of at least £100 million (USD 138 million) per year, leading to improved profit margins. The online gambling firm said the deal with casino giant Caesars Entertainment would include William Hill’s 1,400 UK retail betting shops.
About this deal, Tom Reeg, CEO of Caesars Entertainment, declared: “I’d like to personally thank Ulrik (Bengtsson, Group CEO, William Hill) and all of the team at William Hill for their professionalism and dedication while they have been part of Caesars, and, particularly, during the sale process. I am delighted that, as we said we would when we announced the offer for William Hill, we have found an owner for the William Hill business outside the U.S., which shares the same objectives, approaches and longer-term ambitions of that business.”
For his part, Itai Panzer, CEO of 888 Holdings, commented: “The acquisition of William Hill International represents a transformational opportunity to significantly increase its scale, further diversify its product mix and accelerate the upward shift of its revenue growth profile. This operation will create one of the world’s leading online betting and gaming groups. It will also enhance exposure to sports betting, the world’s largest and fastest growing online segment, with the addition of an iconic sports brand.”
In turn, William Hill’s CEO, Ulrik Bengtsson, said: “The William Hill and 888 strategies are highly complementary, with an absolute focus on the product and customer experience. Scale is increasingly important in our sector, and the combination of the businesses will provide a powerful alignment of brands and technology.”
An auction for the non-US side of William Hill’s business, which includes online operations across the UK and Europe, was initiated by Caesars Entertainment after it had acquired the gambling giant in April 2021, for £2.9 billion (USD 4 billion). The Caesars Palace casino owner only wanted the firm’s U.S. operations and said from the outset that it intended to sell other parts of the business once the deal had gone through, sparking a race to buy. Besides 888 Holdings, U.S. private equity firm Apollo was also in the running for the purchase of the European business.
Caesars Entertainment is one of the largest casino-entertainment companies in the U.S. and one of the world’s most diversified casino-entertainment providers. Since its beginning in Reno, Nevada, in 1937, Caesars has grown through development of new resorts, expansions and acquisitions. Caesars’ resorts operate primarily under the Caesars, Harrah’s, Horseshoe, and Eldorado brand names.
Based in Gibraltar, 888 Holdings, commonly known as 888.com, is a public company, and one of the world’s leading online betting and gaming groups. It is structured into two lines of business: B2C, under the 888 brands, and B2B, conducted through Dragonfish, which provides partners a leading platform through which to establish an online gaming presence and monetize their own brands.
While the William Hill brand, founded in 1934, started out when its founder set up a postal and phone-based betting business. It opened its first betting shops in the UK in the mid-1960s, shortly after their presence on High Streets was made legal.