William Hill to bet on US market

The ubiquitous bookmaker is set to have a crack at crossing the Pond as the Nevada Gaming Commission (NGC) gives the green light.

by Michael Northcott
Last Updated: 20 Jan 2015

Will Hill’s can now execute its plans for America after several years of laying the groundwork with regulators and lining up acquisition deals. Now that the NGC has given it a non-restricted gaming licence, the bookmaker can forge ahead with acquisitions of three major US sports bookmarkers: American Wagering, Brandywine Bookmaking and the sports arm of Sierra Developments. 

The chain is taking a significant gamble with the plans, as the acquisitions are set to cost around $50m, but there is talk of America’s strict rules on gambling loosening in the coming years and the development of a wider but regulated sports betting market. Currently it is illegal in most states but the proliferation of online gambling sites is prompting a rethink of how the laws should apply. 

The rewards could be huge if William Hill pulls it off. The Las Vegas sports betting market is huge to the tune of billions of dollars, and acquiring the three existing chains will give bookmaker a head start in the lucrative market. Investors are hedging their bets with Will Hill, too. Shares in the company have risen 28% in the last year, and shares enjoyed a bump this morning at the NGC’s go-ahead. 

Good to hear news of a British company making acquisitions instead of just being swallowed up by a foreign conglomerate, for once. Shame they can’t buy Cadbury’s back…

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