William Hill has expanded its reach in the US sports betting sector after partnering with casino giant Eldorado Resorts, which operates more than 20 properties in 11 states.
Under the terms of the agreement William Hill – the first company to take legal bets in New Jersey in June – becomes Nevada-headquartered Eldorado's exclusive partner in the provision of digital and land-based sports betting services as well as online gaming. As a result, William Hill's reach now extends to 13 states where sports betting is either legal or sports betting bills are tabled.
The deal comes soon after Paddy Power Betfair and partners GVC and MGM struck access deals with casino operator Boyd Gaming in a bid to expand their reach across the US.
The 25-year exlusive partnership gives William Hill access to properties in the sports betting states of Nevada, West Virginia and Mississippi as well as New Jersey, when Eldorado completes its takeover of the Tropicana in the next few months. Eldorado also operates resorts in heavily-populated states such as Florida, Ohio and Pennsylvania.
William Hill US and Eldorado will collaborate on the development and construction of in-casino sports books as well as in the infrastructure needed to support in-casino wagering as well as mobile and online wagering. The companies aim to focus initially on New Jersey, Iowa, Mississippi and West Virginia, with Eldorado's casinos in West Virginia and Mississippi expected to be ready for sports betting this NFL season.
Commenting on the agreement Philip Bowcock, William Hill’s CEO, said in a statement: “Partnering with Eldorado gives William Hill access to one of the largest and most attractive casino footprints with 23 million customers across multiple states.
“This partnership provides extensive cross sell and profit growth opportunities to both parties.
“Together, we are positioned to capture the evolving US opportunity – starting with land-based sports betting and extending to digital sports betting and, in some states, online gaming.”
Eldorado, which is in the process of buying Tropicana Entertainment and its seven resorts, will receive $50m of stock in William Hill, a 20% stake in William Hill US and a share of profits attributable to its licences.
In what has been a whirlwind couple of months, William Hill is now live at Monmouth Park Racetrack and the Ocean Resort Casino and offering online betting in New Jersey, the sportsbook partner of 13 casinos in Mississippi where it “expects to be the market leading operator” and the exclusive partner to IGT in Rhode Island. It also began taking bets in West Virginia at the end of August and is set to open a sportsbook in Pennsylvania in the coming weeks.
Gary Carano, chairman and CEO of Eldorado, said: “Having worked with the company since 2012, we believe William Hill represents the gold standard in global sports betting and we are confident that our expanded partnership will be successful.
“We look forward to bringing the excitement of sports betting to customers across our growing platform of leading casino resorts, creating value for all shareholders.”
The announcement was met with some sceptism by analysts who are concerned Eldorado gets much more out of the deal than William Hill.
Regulus Partners noted: “It is not yet clear whether landbased properties will be all that strategic as access points – certainly they will be required, but where skins models are adopted this becomes relatively commoditised (as has already happened with NJ and PA).
“Equally, William Hill has not reinvented retail sportsbetting in Nevada with Eldorado since its partnership began 2012, so it is a stretch to see this as a catalyst for meaningful innovation, in our view. We therefore believe that WH has given a lot away for relatively intangible and/or small commercial benefits, as befitting the newfound fixation with the US opportunity and the rush to do deals in the space.”
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