Come Tuesday, sports betting giant William Hill will likely have a much bigger presence on the Las Vegas Strip.
The British bookmaker, which already has a healthy portfolio of sports book properties in Southern Nevada, is expected to close Monday on a deal to acquire CG Technology for an undisclosed sum.
The move, approved by Nevada gaming regulators Thursday, will give William Hill control of the books at the Las Vegas Sands properties of Venetian and Palazzo, as well as the Cosmopolitan, Palms, Silverton and Tropicana. (Tropicana and Palms are shuttered because of the pandemic.)
Along with its recent deal with Caesars Entertainment, in which William Hill operates all the sports books at Caesars resorts on the Strip, the deal to acquire CG Technology allows William Hill a much bigger footprint on the Strip.
Previously to those two deals, it only had operations at the Sahara, Circus Circus and Casino Royale.
“Fundamentally, it’s about being able to operate the books at some of the best properties in Las Vegas,” said Joe Asher, CEO for William Hill’s U.S. business. “Up until very recently, we didn’t have a big Strip presence. That’s all changed now. We’re very excited about it.”
In addition to its online betting products, William Hill controls 145 sports books in Nevada, more than 100 of which are in the southern part of the state. The company also opened its new book at Harveys Lake Tahoe on Thursday.
“A couple of Saturdays ago, I went down to check the books on the Strip and it was fun seeing a William Hill sports book at Caesars Palace,” Asher said. “We as locals take Caesars Palace as part of the landscape, but it’s the most famous casino in the world. As a kid growing up in Wilmington, Delaware, I remember the big boxing matches of the day — during the Muhammad Ali, George Foreman, Joe Frazier era — they were live from Caesars Palace in Las Vegas.”
The deal comes just in time for the NFL season, which is scheduled to begin in two weeks.
The pandemic and social unrest have led to numerous cancellations and postponements of games across the globe. Asher said William Hill was able to fight through the pause.
Sports slowly started to return with international soccer and Korean baseball — sports that drew betting interest because it was the only events on the betting board.
“When things shut down (in March), business fell off a cliff,” Asher said. “Eventually, we were able to prop our business up to about 20% or 25% of normal with things like baseball and soccer from Nicaragua and Belarusian soccer and Russian table tennis. Then, about two months ago, the UFC came back and that was like a light turning on. All credit to Dana White and the team at the UFC for pulling that off. People got reengaged and they stayed engaged as other sports started to come back.”
Once baseball started last month, William Hill’s betting business “bounced back nicely,” Asher said. He expects it also to be a busy football season, even though there is much uncertainty about how many conferences will actually play college football this fall.
They’ve had to refund plenty of bets over the recent months with cancellations, including when leagues stopped games for two days this week to protest the shooting of a Black man by Wisconsin police.
“It’s like John Lewis would say — when you see something wrong, you have a moral obligation to speak up and say something,” Asher said. “The players are seeing something wrong and they’re using their platform to say something about it. Our business depends on sports being played, but I’m much more concerned about what’s going on in my country. I’m glad to see people using their platform to speak out, frankly.”