At the beginning of September 2021, it was announced 888 had agreed to buy William Hill’s non-American business. The deal included over 1,400 betting shops in the United Kingdom and those working in the shops were told not to worry, as 888 would be keeping them open. In terms of those accessing the William Hill website in the UK, nothing has changed at the time of writing and if you head to their website, it is the same as it was before the deal was announced.
888, the popular online gambling operator, has paid £2.2 billion to acquire the non-American business of William Hill, which is a significant amount of money. Betting shops in the UK, just like many other shops on the high street, have suffered in recent years but 888 do not see that as being an issue. With so many great ways to gamble online, such as the tremendous selection of online casinos and slots reviewed at JohnSlots, the competition is fierce.
Speaking about the acquisition, 888 Holdings said: “The combination of 888 and WHI (William Hill International) is expected to deliver significant operating efficiencies, including pre-tax cost synergies of at least £100m per year, leading to improved profit margins.” In relation to the betting shops, chief executive Itai Pazner said 888 plan to keep them in action and that the shop operation was profitable.
As highlighted above, Pazner believes the William Hill business in the UK to be successful and that belief must be one of the main reasons behind the purchase. 888 have previously only operated online so the acquisition of the William Hill shops will give them an instant foothold in the UK high street market.
Looking more closely at the quotes from Pazner, it quickly become apparent how the iconic sports brand of William Hill was one of the key reasons behind the deal. The William Hill name is synonymous with sports betting, especially in the UK and acquiring the brand will be a huge boost to the sports betting portfolio of 888. Pazner said: “William Hill is an iconic sports brand, making it the ideal complement to 888, one of the leading global online gaming brands.”
Clearly having such as big and popular name in the 888 sports betting portfolio is massive and will continue to drive revenue for the company but Pazner is equally excited about the opportunity provided by the high street shops. When discussing the shops, the 888 Chief executive said, “We are also excited about the opportunities that the Retail (betting shop) business provides and see significant brand benefits to the enlarged group from its large estate.”
Another of the major reasons why 888 Holdings made the move for the UK side of the William Hill business now is the fact the new owners of William Hill, Las Vegas casino company Caesars, have been open about their lack of interest in the UK side of the business. Caesars main aim was to use the expertise of William Hill to attempt to take control of the sports betting market in the United States. The sports betting market in the US is young and that is where Caesars wants to focus, meaning the UK side of the William Hill business would have been secondary.
The news gave 888 and other potential suitors an opportunity to expand their interest in the UK sports betting market. It was a chance not to be missed, as a brand name like William Hill rarely comes up for sale in this way. 888 beat off competition from other gambling brands to land William Hill and it will be interesting to see how they develop sports betting in the UK, both online and in the high street.