There has been some huge news in recent days surrounding one of the biggest high street bookmakers in the United Kingdom. William Hill are the largest high street operator in the UK with over 2000 shops and they have had a presence in the high street since 1961. Originally, William Hill offered a postal and telephone betting service but when betting shops become legal in the early 1960’s, William Hill were quick to take advantage of the new laws and by the mid-1970’s, there were close to 15,000 betting shops in the UK.
Fast forward to 2021 and things have changed significantly in the betting world, with millions of people now choosing to bet online. Again, William Hill were at the forefront of the changes and established an online betting presence in 1998 with the launch of their sportsbook website. An online casino quickly followed, and William Hill have since expanded operations to the United States, being the first European gaming operator to be awarded a full gaming licence in Nevada.
However, things changed for William Hill in 2020 when it was announced the company accepted an offer of purchase from Caesars Entertainment. The deal was completed in April 2021 and as part of the transaction, Caesars Entertainment said they would keep the business in the United States but look to sell the business in the UK and other countries outside the US.
Having announced their intention to sell the UK branch of William Hill, there has been reported interest from the Tipico Group. It is understood the German gambling group are among the leading contenders to obtain William Hill’s British betting shops and online operations for more than £1.5 billion. Tipico is majority-owned by CVC Capital Partners, so what will the potential deal mean for the iGaming sector?
Firstly, it is important to point out that this will not be first time CVC and William Hill have been together, should the deal go through. The equity firm and Cinven purchased the gambling company in 1999 for £825 million and chose to float it on the London Stock Exchange in 2002.
William Hill already has a significant influence in European markets, including Spain and Italy, With Tipico being Germany’s largest sports betting group, it means the company will have a strong holding over the European and British sports betting markets. In addition to being the largest sports betting group in Germany, Tipico already have operations in the United States, Colombia, Croatia, and Austria.
Acquiring the British arm of William Hill means they are expanding their reach and the deal would see Tipico become one of the dominant forces in sports betting, not only in the UK but across Europe and the world. It is always dangerous when one company begins to take control of a sector and deals have been prevented in the past for the fear of a monopoly.
We have not got to that stage with Tipico and William Hill just yet but there are sure to outsiders looking at the deal and wondering what it means for the future of the iGaming industry and competitiveness in the sector.