After an arduous wait and many bids later, 888 Holdings finally secured the non-US arm of William Hill’s operations for a staggering £2.2 billion. After fighting off fierce competition from Apollo Global Management and CVC Germany’s largest Casino operator, 888 will now be the proud owner of William Hill’s European Business and 1,400 retail betting outlets within the UK.
888 Win the Deal
Back in April this year, Caesars Entertainment the largest US casino operator bought William Hill for £2.9 billion made it clear at the time of the takeover, they would sell off all non-US operations to solely concentrate on the successful US sports betting industry. After many bidders dropped out there were three remaining parties interested, Apollo Global Management dropped out at the last minute and CVC was outbid in the final hours securing 888 successful bid.It was rumoured at the time, 888 would only be interested in the digital arm of William Hill’s European operations, however, after 888 successfully secured the final bid 888’s Chief Executive Itai Panzer said, “We are excited about the opportunities the retail business provides and see significant brand benefits”. Siting, William Hill’s retail outlets was a significant factor in the move.However, 888 claims 40% of its earnings comes from its retail outlets. The stability of retail outlets far out way’s the digital sector, especially with the Gambling Act 2005 currently been heavily scrutinised by government ministers who aim to see fresh reform to protect the safety of online gamblers.
Damage to Retail Outlets
In light of the pandemic and the financial hardship faced by many retail outlets within the UK remaining closed for the best part of a year, William Hill made the decision to close 119 betting outlets within the UK permanently when the sector was able to open its doors once again. William Hill took another hit after the government’s decision to slash the minimum stake limit on FOBT’s to just £2, this also factored in the permanent closure of retail outlets in the UK.Despite the pitfalls, retail outlets have faced over the past few years there still remains a great deal of interest in the retail arm of William Hill. It was rumoured during the bidding war Betfred owner Fred Done was interested in acquiring William Hill’s remaining 1,400 retail betting shops with the intention of expanding his already successful high street brand.Boylesports, Ireland’s largest sports betting retailer is also one to watch, they are currently in the process of expanding their presence in the UK, and have already expressed interest in some if not all of William Hill’s UK retail outlets.Only time will tell if William Hill remains a high street betting shop staple or if various companies snap up the 1,400 retail outlets and we see William Hill disappear from our high streets for good.