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888 to finalise acquisition of non-US William Hill assets in Q2

| By Robert Fletcher
Online betting and gaming operator 888 has revealed it expects to complete its acquisition of William Hill’s non-US assets from Caesars Entertainment during the second quarter of 2022.
Weekend report William Hill

888 announced in September of last year that it had reached an agreement worth £2.2bn (€2.6bn/$3.0bn), having previously stated that it was in “advanced” talks with William Hill owner Caesars over a potential purchase.

Caesars itself had acquired the William Hill business earlier in 2021 for £2.9bn, but having purchased the business for its US operations and tech, soon set out plans to dispose of the international assets.

Talks have been ongoing in recent months and 888 has now revealed it expects to publish a combined circular and prospectus for the acquisition and related capital raise in Q2 this year, with the shareholder vote to follow. 

888 said completion is expected to occur thereafter in Q2, subject to the satisfaction of any remaining conditions.

Speaking at the time of the original deal in September 2021, 888 chief executive Itai Pazner said acquisition would drastically change the scale of the 888 business, as well as give the operator a more diversified balance between betting and gaming, as well as between online and retail.

“William Hill International is all of the original William Hill Plc except for the US business,” Pazner said. “It includes all of the technology and brands, and critically all of the talented people, with over 10,000 new colleagues.

“As a result, the transaction critically enhances the scale and diversification of the business, particularly in betting.

“The combination of 888’s technology and gaming-led business and William Hill’s sports-led business will create a really powerful and large business. Underpinned by scale, technology talent and brands, the enlarged business will be really well-placed for continued growth.”

The update comes after 888 last month agreed to sell its B2C and B2B bingo business to Saphalata Holdings Ltd, a division of Broadway Gaming Group, in a deal worth up to $54.0m.

The bingo business operates on a combination of B2B services under 888’s Dragonfish brand and several B2C brands.

Meanwhile, the Great Britain Gambling Commission has revealed William Hill supplied it with incorrect gambling data related to activity during the novel coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic, which the regulator said could lead to “regulatory consequences”.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, the Commission has published aggregated operator data to support its monitoring and understanding of the risks and impact of Covid-19.

This data has been supplied by a number of large operators that represent approximately 80% of Britain’s online gambling market, including William Hill. 

However, following a query raised by the Commission during the data quality assurance process, William Hill informed the regulator that the data it supplied between March 2020 and September 2021 contained incorrect datapoints.

As a result, the Commission is now working to quality assure corrected data, re-run analysis and republish the corrected data in early February 2022. The regulator said it will also review any regulatory consequences of William Hill’s failure to submit accurate data.

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