William Hill has a large slice of the U.S. sports betting pie, but it’s learning to share By Howard Stutz, Executive Editor, CDC Gaming Reports November 26, 2019 at 7:31 pm The late comedian Robin Williams had a hilarious routine about trying to avoid Starbucks, except that he couldn’t, because there always seemed to be one on every street corner. Often times, two on every block. “Oh my God, there’s another!” Williams would scream. Lately, we’re starting to feel the same way about sportsbook operator William Hill US. An outside view of the William Hill Sportsbook at the Plaza Las Vegas (Photo by Bryan Steffy/Getty Images for William Hill U.S.) The Las Vegas-based company, a subsidiary of the United Kingdom’s wagering giant, has carved out a healthy slice of the overall domestic sports wagering pie since the landmark Supreme Court ruling in May 2018 opened the U.S. to legal and regulated sports betting. Last week, William Hill said on a London Stock Exchange trading update conference call that its net revenue from U.S. operations had grown 60% and that the company held a full quarter, 26%, of the total U.S. sports wagering market. “U.S. ambitions clearly remain high and management talked confidently of taking share in New Jersey, which it said was ‘nowhere near as competitive as the UK,’” Eilers Krejcik Gaming analyst Alun Bowden told investors. “Management were keen to talk up (the company’s) position in the regulated U.S. market.” William Hill currently operates 113 race and sports books in Nevada – admittedly, some are simply betting kiosks – and manages sports betting operations for casinos and racetracks in 10 of the 13 current sports betting states. The company signed an agreement last month with Monumental Sports & Entertainment to build and operate a sports book at Capital One Arena in Washington D.C. A week ago, William Hill announced its acquisition of the sportsbook assets once managed by rival CG Technology in Nevada and The Bahamas. The $17.3 billion merger between Eldorado Resorts and Caesars Entertainment provides William Hill the exclusive rights to operate sports betting at all properties owned or managed by Eldorado in the United States, which includes the right to oversee sports betting at the Caesars casinos being acquired in the deal, such as Caesars Palace in Las Vegas. William Hill may be turning into the 800-pound gorilla in the sports betting realm, but that’s not a predicament for the sports betting community. As the market evolves, new players will enter the game. It’s been that way with casino company consolidations; smaller casino operators, such as Twin River Holdings and Century Casinos, have expanded their presence, peeling off casino properties. The same is happening with sports betting. On Monday, DraftKings won the exclusive six-year contract to operate sports wagering in New Hampshire, which is expected to launch in January. This summer, Penn National Gaming signed deals for the company’s sports betting “skins” with DraftKings, theScore, PointsBet and Stars Group, covering more than 30 regional casinos. Full House Resorts has a similar “skins” agreement with Wynn Resorts, Churchill Downs and Smarkets for its Colorado and Indiana casinos. Six new states and the District of Columbia are expected to launch legal sports betting over the next few months. As the pie continues to grow and be divided, William Hill will learn to share. The expansion of legal U.S. sports betting in the past 18 months has been faster than even the activity’s staunchest proponents could have imagined. It’s also making William Hill’s investment in the U.S. market quite lucrative. The company acquired Nevada sportsbook operators Brandywine Bookmaking for $15.7 million and American Wagering, Inc. for $39 million in 2012. Brandywine CEO Joe Asher became CEO of William Hill US, and the business quickly grew in Nevada with a focus on both retail and mobile wagering operations. NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman (l) and William Hill U.S. CEO Joe Asher at the AGA Sports Betting Summit in March 2019 Asher has become one of sports betting’s most recognized leaders. He has also been a loud proponent that Nevada’s legacy sports wagering business wouldn’t be harmed by national expansion. In 2018, Nevada sportsbooks took in a record $5 billion in wagers, collecting a record $301 million in revenue. Even with sports betting expansion, both numbers have a chance to be eclipsed this year. Through October, Nevada sportsbooks have taken in $4.13 billion in sports wagers, an increase of 6.9% over the same 10 months in 2018. The books collected revenues of $261.9 million, a 14.2% increase over 2018. The combination of the sportsbooks coming from the Eldorado-Caesars merger and CG’s management contracts would give William Hill US a stronger presence on the Las Vegas Strip and the surrounding off-Strip market. The company operates nearly two dozen full-service sportsbooks in the Las Vegas Valley, but currently has only the Sahara sportsbook on the Strip, although the company also has the sportsbook at the nearby Strat Hotel Casino and Skypod, which is technically a downtown Las Vegas property. In addition to Caesars Palace and Harrah’s Las Vegas, William Hill is picking up the Venetian Las Vegas, Palazzo, and Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas. However, not all the all the sportsbooks being acquired may stick around. Eldorado has said it wants to sell one or two of the Caesars casinos in Las Vegas, Penn National could fold the Tropicana sportsbook into its skins deals, and Red Rock Resorts could move the Palms Casino sportsbook under the operations of its Station Casinos subsidiary. William Hill US already has a large plate, but there is room for another helping. Howard Stutz is the executive editor of CDC Gaming Reports. He can be reached at email@example.com. Follow @howardstutz on Twitter.