UK regulations hurt William Hill sale to 888 Holdings

Jon Pill
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Published: April 18, 2022 11:24 PM EDT

The ongoing sale of William Hill to 888 Holdings has seen almost 10% shaved off the asking price. The renegotiation of price occurred after UK regulations hit the actual and predicted turnover for William Hill.

888 Holdings is the parent company of 888poker, 888sports, 888casino, and several bingo sites. The company also partnered with Sports Illustrated to launch SI Sportsbook in Virginia and Colorado.

William Hill is owned by Caesars Entertainment, which has been trying to divest itself of William Hill since September 2021.

In a statement issued by 888 Holdings, the company wrote that “888 [Holdings] is pleased to announce that it has entered into an agreement (the “Amendment Deed”) with Caesars Entertainment, Inc. (the “Seller”) to amend certain terms of the Sale and Purchase Agreement dated 9 September 2021.”

The September 2021 agreement set a price of £2.20 billion (~$2.86 billion). This offer has now been reduced to between £1.95 billion (~$2.53 billion) and £2.05 billion (~$2.66 billion). The deal also includes £100 million (~$130 million) in deferred compensation that is contingent on William Hill’s performance in 2024.

Changing landscape

The statement from 888 Holdings explains that the price was adjusted to account for changes in the UK gambling market. In particular, the UK’s recent gambling reforms.

“The amendments to the Sale and Purchase Agreement reflect the change in the macroeconomic and regulatory environment since the announcement of the Acquisition, as well as compliance factors impacting the WH business, including actions taken as part of an ongoing review by the Gambling Commission of Great Britain (“UKGC”),” says the statement.

Some of the recent reforms to hit William Hill’s non-U.S. operations include the UK’s affordability checks and caps on bet sizes and spin speeds for slot machines.

The UK Gambling Commission’s new rules have had a mixed impact across the industry with GGPoker firing players over affordability checks and PokerStars more or less continuing with business as usual.

The negotiations between Caesars Entertainment and 888 Holdings over the sale of William Hill are expected to complete in June 2022. William Hill has struggled during the pandemic, being passed around the market multiple times. This sale comes barely more than a year since Caesars first bought William Hill.

Both William Hill and 888 Holdings operate online poker rooms in the UK market. No announcement has been made as to how the purchase will impact these rooms.

Featured image source: Flickr by Mikey, used under CC license