US casino giant Caesars agrees deal for UK betting group

US casino giant Caesars Entertainment on Wednesday announced a deal to buy UK betting group William Hill, which has a large online sports gambling presence in the United States.

The deal worth £2.9 billion ($3.7 billion, 3.1 billion euros) is subject to shareholder approval.

“The opportunity to combine our land-based casinos, sports betting and online gaming in the US is a truly exciting prospect,” Caesars CEO Tom Reeg said in a statement.

“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,” he added.

US gambling activities are on the rise after the country’s Supreme Court legalised sports betting in 2018.

The deal values each William Hill share at 272 pence, up 58 percent compared with its closing price at the start of September when Caesars made an initial approach. 

“Although William Hill’s online business lags behind some of its rivals, it boasts a 29-percent share of the US sports betting market and Caesars already owned a 20 percent stake in its US operations,” noted Susannah Streeter, senior investment and markets analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown.

Caesars said it intends on disposing of William Hill’s core UK business, whose bricks-and-mortar betting shops have suffered owing to coronavirus restrictions.

“Caesars’ strategic focus remains on the opportunities immediately evident in the US market at this stage,” the American group said Wednesday.