William Hill announces big US expansion with Eldorado casinos partnership

Deal will give British bookmaker access to American resort operator’s 23 million customers

Ben Chapman
Wednesday 05 September 2018 10:00
William Hill said it would roll out its sports betting operation ‘within weeks’ at five casinos
William Hill said it would roll out its sports betting operation ‘within weeks’ at five casinos

William Hill has entered a partnership with US casino firm Eldorado Resorts, giving the British bookmaker access to 23 million customers as it seeks to capitalise on the newly liberalised American sports betting market.

Under the deal, William Hill becomes Eldorado’s exclusive sports betting and online gambling partner.

Eldorado currently operates 21 casinos across 11 US states and is set to expand that to 26 sites in 13 states by the end of the year with the planned acquisition of Tropicana Entertainment.

William Hill said it would roll out its sports betting operation “within weeks” at five casinos, including the Tropicana in Atlantic City.

The partnership will launch further sportsbooks in other locations, as well as other digital betting services, over the following months.

The two companies have worked together since 2012 but have embarked on the current rapid expansion following a Supreme Court ruling in May that paved the way for gambling on sporting events across the US.

The ruling struck down a 1992 federal law that prevented states from authorising sports gambling, meaning that Nevada was the only state where a person could legally wager on the outcome of a single game.

As well as being one of the largest bookmakers in the UK, William Hill already has a significant presence in Nevada, where it runs 108 race and sports books and the state’s leading mobile sports betting app. It is now seeking to replicate that success in other US states.

Eldorado will take a 20 per cent share in William Hill’s US operation with the British company owning the remaining 80 per cent. William Hill said the split would allow it retain “strategic flexibility” after the deal.

William Hill chief executive, Philip Bowcock, said the partnership would give both companies “extensive” opportunities to grow their respective businesses.

“Together, we are positioned to capture the evolving US opportunity – starting with land-based sports betting and extending to digital sports betting and, in some states, online gaming,” he said.

William Hill will be hoping the tie-up can go some way to make up for the hole in its revenues left by the UK government’s decision to slash the stakes on fixed-odds betting terminals (FOBTs) from £100 to £2 per spin.

The bookmaker swung to an £820m loss in its last half-year, thanks to an £882.8m exceptional charge related to the rule change. FOBTs had accounted for a significant proportion of the company’s profits.

Gary Carano, chairman and chief executive of Eldorado, described William Hill as the “gold standard” of sports betting. “We look forward to bringing the excitement of sports betting to customers across our growing platform of leading casino resorts, creating value for all shareholders,” he said.

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