William Hill US and Eldorado Resorts Inc have entered into a nationwide partnership for digital and land-based sports betting and online gaming in the US. The partnership combines sports betting company William Hill, with the extensive market access of Eldorado – a major casino group with 21 properties across 11 states and a customer base of 23 million people. In return, Eldorado will get a 20 per cent stake in Hill’s US business.

Under the terms of the agreement William Hill becomes Eldorado’s exclusive partner in the provision of digital and land-based sports betting services as well as online gaming. Consequently, Hill’s reach now extends to 13 states where sports betting is either legal or sports betting bills are tabled.  

Within weeks the partners will open William Hill sportsbooks in five properties across three states – The Tropicana in Atlantic City, New Jersey; The Mountaineer Casino Racetrack and Resort in West Virginia and three casinos in MississippiThe Lady Luck Casino in Vicksburg, Isle of Capri in Lula and Tropicana Casino in Greenville. Sportsbooks in additional casinos/states as well as digital betting and gaming services will be launched in the months ahead subject to the legislation in each state.    

Philip Bowcock, William Hill PLC CEO, said: “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.”

Gary Carano, chairman and CEO of Eldorado, commented: “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.”

As part of the agreement Eldorado will receive initial consideration of $50m in William Hill PLC shares which are subject to an initial 3-5 year lock-up period, as well as a 20% shareholding in William Hill US. This business includes William Hill’s operations in Nevada, New Jersey, Delaware, Mississippi, Rhode Island, West Virginia and Iowa as well as its operations in the Bahamas and St Kitts, and all future Eldorado and non-Eldorado US business.  

SBC Americas analysis: This is a bold move on the part of William Hill, a company that needs a serious shot in the arm to help recover its stuttering share prices of late. The firm reported a pre-tax slump of £819.6m in the six months to June 26 with results impeded by an impairment bill of £882.8m due to the impending stake reduction on FOBTs. Will Eldorado live up to its literal translation – ‘the gilded one’ – and add a golden glow to Hill’s jaded pallor? Philip Bowcock and his team will be hoping so. One thing’s for certain; this joint venture sends out a clear message that the British owned bookie is determined to make its presence felt in the US sports betting sector. And that will only be helped by future deals involving Eldorado such as its pending acquisition of Tropicana Entertainment Inc. That will further extend its reach to 26 properties in 13 states on completion which is expected in the fourth quarter of 2018.