Nevada’s leading sports betting operator, William Hill, has upped its stake in America’s biggest casino market as it continues its ambitious US expansion plan.
On Wednesday, the British bookmaker received unanimous recommendations of approval for licensing from the Nevada Gaming Control Board at seven casinos in the Silver State, including Golden Entertainment’s Stratosphere, Arizona Charlie’s Decatur, Arizona Charlie’s Boulder properties in Las Vegas, and the Aquarius in Laughlin.
The recommendation also includes two Eldorado Resorts casinos, the Eldorado in Reno and The Montbleu in Stateline, where the bookmaker already operates sports books but required amendments to its licensing because of a new strategic deal with Eldorado.
In September, William Hill pulled of something of a coup in its bid to corner the newly liberalized US market. The Eldorado deal will see it operate sports books at all of the company’s casinos, local laws permitting.
Eldorado has become the second biggest regional casino operator in America through an ambitious series of mergers and acquisitions in recent years. The deal has the potential to expand William Hill’s US footprint into 21 casinos in 11 states — states that have either already legalized sports betting or are expected to do so.
Crucially for William Hill’s US ambitions, while Eldorado will employ its services exclusively, the British company will be free to seek new partnerships independently.
Under the terms of the deal, Eldorado will take a 20 percent stake in William Hill US, and a small stake in the wider William Hill group — a detail that needed to be rubberstamped by Nevada regulators this week.
William Hill US CEO Joe Asher promised the company would be investing in souping up the facilities and displays at the new sports books and will also install self-service kiosks at certain properties
We’ll typically go in and upgrade the facilities, put in our equipment and the display systems that we use,” Asher told the NGCB, as reported by the Las Vegas Review-Journal. “The Stratosphere book in particular is going through a substantial renovation right now.”
William Hill currently operates 137 books in the US, including 55 in Nevada, and is hungry for more as it faces headwinds back at home in the UK.
The company is eager to diversify and break its longstanding reliance on the UK market, which has become a challenging regulatory environment due to a recent crackdown on fixed-odds betting terminals in the country.
The controversial machines have been propping up the UK’s retail betting sector over the past decade and the British government’s decision to slash maximum stakes from £100 to £2 last year caused the William Hill’s stock to plunge.
But with its US expansion plan on track, the company has also recently acquired European-facing online casino Mr Green, as it seeks to “move from a single brand to a suite of brands that can maximize growth opportunities … in new and existing markets,” according to CEO Philip Bowcock.