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Pulse


US SPORTS BETTING JOE ASHER INTERVIEW


the last several years, he has called a few races at the Elko County Fair in northern Nevada. One of Joe’s aforementioned business partners turned personal friend, Dennis Drazin, Chairman and CEO of Darby Development LLC, the operator of Monmouth Park, had a business proposition for the newly unemployed Joe.


“Dennis Drazin told me that they don’t have a track announcer for Memorial Day at Monmouth Park and asked if I’d be interested to call the races. Unfortunately, I can’t make it because one of my daughters is in a soccer tournament that weekend.”


ALWAYS A POSSIBILITY


Initially in Nevada where William Hill had become the first European gaming operator to be awarded a full gaming licence by the Nevada Gaming Commission, Eldorado, who would later own the Caesars brand, has partnered with the operator since 2012.


In 2018, William Hill and Eldorado Resorts announced a nationwide partnership for digital and land-based sports betting. Te partners


agreed to invest in the development of in-venue sportsbooks, as well as developing the infrastructure to support in-casino, online and mobile sports wagering.


William Hill was granted the right to operate online sports betting under the first skin to launch via Eldorado’s licence – in markets that require online operators to have a land-based partner – as well as offer online casino and poker under any second skin launched via Eldorado’s licence where regulation permitted.


In return, Eldorado was granted a 20 per cent equity stake in the William Hill US business, as well as 13.4m ordinary shares in the operator’s London-listed parent company.


"We had a long and warm relationship with Eldorado Resorts, initially running one sportsbook for them in Reno before they bought out a joint venture partner and we started operating additional sportsbooks. Tey went on a rapid expansion phase, and we wound up doing a deal with them where they got a 20 per cent interest in the William Hill US business and some shares in the plc, and we got the right to


“We certainly used the heritage in meetings with prospective business partners and it clearly helped in that regard. For example, in the deal we did with Monumental Sports for the sportsbook at Capital One Arena, Ted Lionsis was keenly aware of the William Hill brand and sent me a photo of a betting shop when he was in London for a trip. While business partners were familiar with the company’s heritage, the US facing business took on its own identity with consumers.”


P94 WIRE / PULSE / INSIGHT / REPORTS


operate their sportsbooks in properties that they currently owned and anything they might acquire in the future.


"We always thought there was a chance that they might one day own all or part of Caesars. Obviously, we didn’t know for certain, but we reckoned there was a pretty good chance it could happen.


"Of course, that is how it subsequently played out - Eldorado acquired Caesars and we got the right to operate the Caesars sportsbooks as well. Tat was the evolution of the relationship and, ultimately, they decided to control their own destiny around sports and made an offer to buy the entire company with the idea of then selling its non-US businesses.


How did you feel about the decision to accept the acquisition offer? "It was the Board’s decision to accept the offer so that question is better posed to them.


“What I would say is that when PASPA was overturned, we started looking for a partner who could guarantee us access to as many states as possible. Certainly, the expectation, which has largely borne out, was that licenses were going to go to incumbent casino companies in the various states. We were looking for a partner who could get us access into those markets.”


WILL THE WILLIAM HILL BRAND SURVIVE?


Founded in 1934 by the man himself as a postal and telephone betting service, it wasn’t until 1966, five years after betting shops became legal in the UK, that William Hill bought into the high street and started to acquire existing businesses.


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