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888 Buys William Hill From Caesars For $3 Billion

Written By: Maya Michaels | September 15, 2021 | Posted In Poker News

According to a report from the Financial Times, online gaming company 888 bought William Hill’s UK, European, and Latin American assets for 2.2 billion British pounds. Caesars runs its online poker room, WSOP.com, on 888’s software. Last March, 888 and Caesars agreed to keep its online poker partnership in place through at least 2026.

888 will take ownership of William Hill’s 1,400 betting locations outside the U.S. It was the end result of a three-way bidding war for William Hill between 888, Apollo Global Management, and CVC Capital Partners, which previously owned the company.

Itai Pazner, CEO of 888, said that the countless retail betting locations were an attractive part of the deal. But other executives and analysts look at those sportsbooks as a liability, especially during the pandemic. Pazner’s company is positioned to take the business online if necessary, though he doesn’t believe it will be.

“There is demand for retail betting as part of people’s leisure activity,” Pazner told the Financial Times. “I don’t see it going away anytime soon even after COVID and the massive move online.”

888 shares were down 1.3% as of 9:55 a.m. in London. William Hill’s 2026 bonds rose around 1.5 pence on the pound to 109.59 pounds, according to CBBT data tracked by Bloomberg, the highest since mid-June.

U.K. betting companies have been closing many of their physical stores after a government crackdown to reduce problem gambling made them less profitable. 888 plans to keep the remaining William Hill shops open, Pazner said in an interview. 

“It’s a stable business, positive cash flow, profitable — very profitable — so I see no reason not to keep it, and keep investing in it,” he said referring to the brick-and-mortar stores. “It’s obviously not a significant growth business, but it is a very stable business.”

The company will be able to use the William Hill brand everywhere except the U.S., where Caesars still owns it. The two businesses will work on creating a joint management team.

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