888 completes William Hill International purchase in £2.2bn move

The online casino industry is one of the most fast-paced in the world when it comes to changes of ownership and usage. This has become a common talking point within the industry, with many insiders expecting more purchases and merges to happen in the coming year. One company that has currently gone through the process of changing ownership is William Hill International. The online casino business 888, one of the largest gambling firms in Europe, has made the decision to complete the deal at a cost of around £2.2bn.

This will be a major move for the William Hill online casino gaming sector. However, 888 has implied that it will keep current William Hill bookmaker shops as part of 888s move into a more traditional ‘brick and mortar’ business approach. As one of the biggest names in online casino gaming and online gambling, 888 has a smaller presence in the offline world. As such, the move to acquire William Hill changes things.

The online casino company is rated as one of the largest on the continent but has always looked to move more into a physical business presence. This follows the fact that Las Vegas casino group Caesars bought William Hill last year in a £2.7bn deal. However, the company made clear they had little to no interest in the non-US online operations, including its high street bookmakers. 888, by contrast, is looking to make more moves into this part of the industry.

Caesars wanted to bring in the huge expertise that William Hill’s provides, with the US overturning their sports betting ban in 2018. Therefore, there was a large section of the old William Hill’s business that might never have been used again.

A bidding war for non-US assets, then, has seen the likes of 888 and CVC Capital Partners get involved. Now, it looks like 888 has won the day.

When will the deal be complete?

It is expected that 888 will become full owners of this part of the William Hill organisation sometime in early 2022. Approval from shareholders will have to be put through, though investors holding some 47% of 888s shares have already given their approval for the deal. 888 is managed by experts in Israel and has become one of the biggest names in the online casino gaming scene.

However, they have precious little operations on the ground floor and with many gamers looking to return to the old-school experience of a brick and mortar store, they have looked to capitalise on the chance to grab an industry titan for a strong price.

William Hill, though, has already gone through a major cost-cutting exercise with close to 1,000 stores closed in the last three years alone. 888, though, might look to revive their popular bookmaking and local solutions, with the company keen to build a second arm to their hugely successful online casino gaming experience. Expect more information on this key purchase to come out prior to approval and finalisation.

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