William Hill, Eldorado Join Forces For Sports Betting In New Jersey And Beyond

Written By Joss Wood on September 5, 2018

William Hill has struck a partnership with Eldorado Resorts. The deal will see Will Hill be Eldorado’s “exclusive partner in the provision of digital and land-based sports betting services as well as online gaming.”

Yesterday, Sky News broke the story that William Hill would shortly announce that it plans to form a joint venture with Eldorado in which Eldorado will take a 20 percent equity stake in William Hill US.

Eldorado will also pick up £50 million ($64 million) of restricted shares in the main UK listed company William Hill plc.

Today, the companies confirmed the deal in a press statement.

William Hill will get access to provide sports betting in Eldorado properties wherever it is legal. The joint venture also includes online sports betting.

William Hill CEO Philip Bowcock 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.”

Eldorado, William Hill expand Nevada relationship

William Hill entered the US sports betting business in Nevada in 2012. Since then it has expanded throughout the state and now claims 31 percent of the market.

It operates sportsbooks for all three of Eldorado’s casinos in Nevada and has operations in more than 100 other locations with other partners.

The possibility of this deal was envisaged by analysts and certainly by William Hill itself when Carl Icahn sold the Tropicana Entertainment casino business in April this year. That sale, once finalized, includes the Atlantic City casino Tropicana.

Penn National Gaming spin-off, Gaming and Leisure Properties (GLPI), paid $1.21 billion to buy the physical casinos. Eldorado Resorts paid $640 million to lease the properties from GLPI for 15 years.

This sudden expansion of Eldorado’s business is creating a platform ideal for new opportunities in state-regulated sports betting.

Gary Carano, chairman and chief executive officer of Eldorado Inc., 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.”

Tropicana AC and NJ sports betting

The press release said that joint operations will commence very shortly in three states:

“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 Mississippi – the Lady Luck Casino in Vicksburg, Isle of Capri in Lula and Tropicana Casino in Greenville.”

So the mystery that has been plaguing the Boardwalk since NJ sports betting was legalized is now revealed. Tropicana will have a sportsbook very soon.

Eldorado and William Hill sports betting footprint

Eldorado has casinos in:

  • Colorado
  • Florida
  • Illinois
  • Indiana
  • Iowa
  • Louisiana
  • Missouri
  • Mississippi
  • New Jersey
  • Nevada
  • Ohio
  • Pennsylvania
  • West Virginia

An interesting extension to the deal could be possible if Eldorado can get leases over more of GLPI’s properties. That could theoretically add Maine, New Mexico, and Maryland.

MGM GVC joint venture now has a direct competitor

If this deal sounds strikingly familiar, that’s because it is. MGM and GVC announced a similar deal to form a joint venture company with operations in 15 states.

MGM has a separate deal with Boyd Gaming, but that deal has been rolled up into the GVC joint venture. Both sides have seeded $100 million of start-up capital.

After acquiring the group in March 2018, GVC now includes Ladbrokes Gala Coral. That sets the stage for an interesting match-up.

Ladbrokes dates back to 1886, whereas William Hill was a comparative newcomer to the gambling scene, launching in 1934.

Historically the two companies have competed aggressively for the British market, and not always with the level of reserve Americans expect of the English.

Now that competitive spirit looks to be continuing across the Atlantic, as the two British firms square up at the side of their respective US partners.

Paddy Power Betfair has FanDuel but Caesars? DraftKings?

MGM/GVC and now Eldorado/William Hill. The competitive landscape of US sports betting is becoming more visible, but there’s plenty of space left for more deals.

Paddy Power Betfair bought FanDuel using the rationale that the brand would be extremely valuable if sports betting was legalized. What the two lack is a large network of land-based casinos. Nevertheless, they are a force to be reckoned with.

Caesars launched a partnership with Scientific Games, but again, despite the firepower of the Caesars brand, it is limited and in need of a bigger deal.

And then there is DraftKings. It made a splash by being first to launch a mobile sports betting app in New Jersey. But without a really big brother at its side, its early advantage may not translate into long-run success.

It is starting to become worth speculating about who the winners in US sports betting will be.

Not all the players who enter at the beginning are likely to still be there in five years time. However, you won’t go wrong if you bet on the big battalions — and Will Hill/Eldorado is certainly that.

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Joss Wood

Though Joss Wood's primary focus is on international regulated online gambling markets, he also follows the legal New Jersey online gambling industry and writes extensively about sports betting. Previously he worked as the editor of Poker Industry Pro, worked in business and finance, and played online poker professionally for seven years.

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