Gaming Industry Experts Predict Further Sportsbook Consolidation Following William Hill and CG Deal

Posted on: November 25, 2019, 11:32h. 

Last updated on: November 25, 2019, 01:22h.

Experts in the gaming industry say the recent deal from William Hill to acquire the sports betting assets of CG Technology is just the first of several expected consolidations.

gaming industry William Hill sportsbooks
William Hill will soon assume operations of The Venetian sportsbook, and gaming industry experts say more takeovers and partnerships are forthcoming. (Image: Elizabeth Page Brumley/Las Vegas Review-Journal)

Last week, William Hill reached an undisclosed acquisition of CG Technology’s leases and sportsbook operations at Las Vegas’ Cosmopolitan, Venetian, Palazzo, Palms, Tropicana, and Silverton casinos.

In regards to mergers and acquisitions, this is only the beginning,” Global Market Advisors partner Brendan Bussmann told the Las Vegas Review-Journal.

The May 2018 decision by the US Supreme Court gave permission to the states to determine their own laws and regulations regarding sports betting. Today, legal sports wagers have been placed in 13 states, and seven more have passed sports betting legislation.

Betting on M&A

Sports betting is an extremely small margin business. The amount of GGR earned per square foot of a sportsbook is far less than the amount won per square foot where slot machines and table games are located.

That’s prompted several of the largest casino operators in the US that conduct their own sportsbooks to partner with sportsbook-specific companies, as the gambling activity becomes legal in new states.

MGM Resorts and GVC Interactive teamed up for a joint sports betting arrangement. The companies said the entity, known as Roar Digital, gives the unified group “meaningful early mover advantages” in the burgeoning US market.

Caesars Entertainment acquired an unspecified stake in DraftKings, and Boyd Gaming a four percent position in FanDuel. Eldorado Resorts – which is in the process of acquiring Caesars – purchased a 20 percent ownership in William Hill US.

With state taxes on sports betting gross gaming revenue (GGR) varying from state to state, expanding operations through partnerships seems to be the ideal strategy for casinos and sportsbooks.

“Sportsbook operators generally retain approximately 40 percent of revenue (or two percent of handle) as EBITDA (Earnings Before Interest, Taxes, Depreciation, and Amortization). However, larger operations, which successfully generate a substantial amount of online wagering, could achieve larger profit margins on revenue,” said Global Market Advisors in its “Economics of Sports Betting” brief.

William Hill Heads South

Billionaire Phil Ruffin owns Treasure Island, and is the process of acquiring Circus Circus from MGM. Treasure Island’s sportsbook is currently independently operated by the casino.

However, at Ruffin’s Casino Miami, which he purchased late last year, he’s bringing in William Hill to operate a race book, and hopefully in the future, sports betting.

William Hill will initially open a parimutuel simulcast wagering lounge. Should Florida legalize sports betting, the facility will expand into a full-scale sportsbook. The two entities said the partnership “primes William Hill for entry into the future Florida sports betting market.”

Legislation has been introduced to regulate sports betting in the Sunshine State. However, the state has a complex gaming environment that includes the Seminole Tribe’s full-scale casinos, parimutuel poker rooms across the state, and parimutuel racinos in Miami-Dade and Broward counties that are permitted to house slot machines.