Caesars Entertainment announced last Monday that it had received partial regulatory clearance to acquire the UK-based bookmaker William Hill.
The Nevada-based casino and hotel company required clearance under the Hart-Scott-Rodino Antitrust Improvements Acts of 1976 (HSR Act) for the acquisition of William Hill – that it agreed to buy in September for a whopping $3.7 billion – to progress. According to Caesars, the proposed deal has also obtained approval from the Mississippi Gaming Commission (on November 19) and the West Virginia Lottery (on December 16).
The transaction remains subject to the authorization of the remaining conditions, including approval by the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement and Casino Control Commission, Nevada Gaming Control Board, Nevada Gaming Commission, Indiana Gaming Commission, and the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board. In addition, the combination is subject to the final approval by the English High Court and administrative and post-closing nods from other US agencies.
Caesars Continues its Expansion Plans
In late September, Caesars announced the acquisition of William Hill in a deal that is part of America’s largest casino-entertainment company’s plans for further expansion in a flourishing and ever-growing market since 2018. Caesars expects to close the transaction in March 2021. Under the terms with William Hill, Caesars agreed to pay 272 pence for each William Hill share. In November, 87% of William Hill’s shareholders voted for the acquisition.
As part of its expansionist agenda, the company also announced last week the divestment of its Southern Indiana operation to a native Indian tribe for $250 million.
What Does Caesars Plan To Do With William Hill?
The casino operator intends to capitalize on William Hill’s US operations to expand its presence in the lucrative sports betting industry across the country. However, the owner of Las Vegas’s Caesars Palace plans to sell William Hill’s non-US operations, including over 1,400 UK betting shops.
Luckily, for Caesars, there are many suitors to acquire William Hill’s non-US operations eagerly. Earlier, Reuters quoted unnamed sources claiming the private-equity group Apollo was interested in buying the UK assets. Or, Caesars could launch an auction process. According to Caesars, the sale of William Hill’s non-US operations is likely to maintain the status quo amid the high-profile transition period that is likely to see the integration of the company’s US operations with few, if any, job losses.
Caesars planned to fund the deal partly via a $1.7 billion issue of new stock.
In July 2019, William Hill was forced to shut down more than 700 betting shops in Britain after new regulations limited the maximum stake on gaming machines. The bookmaker blamed the government’s move in April to cut stakes on FOBTs from £100 per spin to £2 whcih led to the announcement to close its hundreds of units.