David Prosser: Keeping the bets on America small

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Outlook William Hill's push into the US continues, with the bookmaker's purchase of Nevada's Brandywine Bookmaking yesterday following two acquisitions unveiled last month. The deals reflect the expectation the US is close to liberalising gambling legislation, with cash-strapped states across the country recognising the potential tax revenues on offer.

The Brandywine deal looks particularly attractive because the bookmaker works closely with the state government in Delaware, one of only four states which has legalised sports betting. This may be useful if other states follow the Delaware model.

Still, these investments are not certain to pay off. For one thing, the anti-liberalisation lobby,particularly in sports, remains powerful in the US. For another, expect reforms of the law to favour American companies.

William Hill is therefore sensible only to be wagering small sums on this strategy – its trio of purchases over the past month have cost it just $53m.