Israeli owned and operated online digital gambling services provider and developer 888 Holdings has acquired the British gambling company William Hill Bookmakers for £2.2 billion, or roughly $3 billion. This marks one of the biggest mergers and acquisitions in sports gambling history.
Sport gambling has been legal in England for many years. The U.S., until recently, had federal laws that prohibited such gambling. It was only allowed in Nevada where it was legal before the national laws were passed. The only exception was gambling on horse racing and so forth, and then only at the track or in the same state as the event.
But a Supreme Court Ruling recently changed all that. The U.S. Supreme Court struck down such federal laws as too broad and unconstitutional, leaving the States to decide the matter for themselves. Sports gambling is now legal in 22 states and more are expected to legalize it as well.
This means that with this acquisition, 888 Holdings will be well positioned to take advantage of what could possibly be billions in revenue. And now that so many states have made sports gambling legal, people no longer need to go do illegal bet takers known as “bookies” who tend to be affiliated with organized crime.
Founded in 1997 by Avi and Aaron Shaked and Shay and Ron Ben-Yitzhak, 888 Holding has more than 1,300 employees worldwide. Its Israel office, Random Logic LTD, is based in Herzliya, and specializes in technology development and online marketing services. Additional offices and subsidiary companies are located in Gibraltar, Romania, Antigua, USA and UK.
The company’s teams create, develop, and manage all aspects of our operations, including software development, game development, marketing, business development, back office payment processing, risk management, and member relationship management.
Founded by William Hill in 1934, William Hill Bookmakers has changed ownership many times over the years. The company offers all manner of sports gambling, both online and at retail locations around the United Kingdom.
William Hill is described as one of the Britain’s largest bookmakers, with over 1,400 retail betting shops across the UK, and about 2 million active UK customers online. It is the number one betting brand in the UK in terms of awareness. For revenue market share, William Hill is a top-3 brand in both Retail and Online sports betting.
William Hill’s core territories in Europe are Italy, Spain and the Nordics, and it has recently launched in Latin America. Alongside the William Hill brand, WHI also operates the Mr Green brand across Europe.
888 CEO Itai Pazner said, “Our strategies are also complementary, being digitally led, customer focused, and committed to player protection and raising industry standards around safer gambling. We are also excited about the opportunities that the retail business provides and see significant brand benefits.”
“We did see interest in the retail [estate] from the outside but we feel that the retail is an integral part of the William Hill asset. Today they’re [William Hill] managing a very well-run retail estate that’s present in good and prime locations.”
“We’re planning to keep the retail stores and the great people they have in them.”
William Hill chief executive Ulrik Bengtsson said: “The William Hill and 888 strategies are highly complementary with an absolute focus on the product and customer experience.
“Scale is increasingly important in our sector and the combination of the businesses will provide a powerful alignment of brands and technology.”
News of the acquisition comes after 888 reported its first half result for 2021. The company recorded half yearly revenues of $528m, and adjusted EBITDA of $97 million.
Also, regulated markets driving growth, with the regulated and taxed mix at 75% of revenues, a Strategic Sports Illustrated partnership in the US which the company says sets a platform for strong growth and further progress on increasing customer protection and safer gambling.