What Caesars’ Purchase Of William Hill Could Mean For Sports Bettors In Iowa

Posted on October 12, 2020 - Last Updated on October 13, 2020

William Hill continues to dominate the online sports betting market. For that reason, the pending William Hill sale could affect the landscape of legal wagering in the Hawkeye State.

Caesars Entertainment and regulators have a few matters to settle before the transaction is final. However, a few facets of this deal are foregone conclusions.

Details of pending William Hill sale to Caesars

Caesars and William Hill execs settled on a price of $3.7 billion for one of the world’s premier gambling brands. Since William Hill is a publicly traded company, that price comes out to a 58% premium on the stock price the day before Caesars announced the terms of the sale.

That’s all pending federal and state regulatory approval, however. Caesars may have to sell off part of William Hill’s digital and retail properties for the transaction to move forward.

Although William Hill only offers online and retail sports betting in IA, it also runs online casino products in New Jersey. Caesars does have an online sports betting product.

The two companies already had a sports betting partnership as well. That effectively gave William Hill the role of betting management services provider for Caesars’ properties in several jurisdictions.

Now, Caesars will own the William Hill brand worldwide. What Caesars plans to do with the international components could have an impact on sports bettors in Iowa.

Will selling UK components lead to marketing barrage in IA?

Caesars has made it clear that it intends to sell the international parts of William Hill, most of which operate in the United Kingdom. That will produce some fresh capital for Caesars.

It’s not clear exactly how Caesars will use that cash, but protecting William Hill’s strong position in IA may be one such use. In August of this year, nearly 59% of the IA online handle came via William Hill.

A big reason for that dominance is William Hill’s partnerships with the most prominent casinos in IA. Those are about to become less of an advantage, however.

On Jan. 1, 2021, the in-person registration requirement for online sports betting in IA expires. At that point, proximity to a casino will make zero difference for online sports bettors’ choice of book.

Caesars may have to spend to maintain the lead when Iowans can register for DraftKings, FanDuel and PointsBet from anywhere in the state online. Then again, it’s fair to ask how much the premier position in Iowa is worth.

Through August 2020, the record monthly handle in IA is less than $60 million. To provide context, the best-ever month for New Jersey so far was just south of $668 million in handle.

Because being even the fifth- or sixth-biggest operator in places like NJ could be more worth than the dominant operator in IA, Caesars may elect to spend fewer resources marketing itself in IA. There could be a nice perk coming for William Hill customers in IA regardless of how much Caesars elects to push itself, however.

Caesars Rewards coming to William Hill Iowa?

One of the most attractive perks for William Hill bettors in this acquisition is the integration of Caesars Rewards with their wagering activity. Bettors could earn rewards points for depositing funds, placing bets and making referrals.

For guests of Harrah’s Council Bluffs, which Caesars operates, that could mean faster and more perks for Iowa bettors. Right now, Harrah’s only offers retail wagering. That will likely change with this deal.

The integration of Caesars Rewards could be a perk for IA bettors, while the addition of William Hill customers could be a boost for Caesars. When this sale becomes final, it could benefit everyone but Caesars’ competitors.

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Derek Helling

Derek Helling is a freelance journalist who resides in Kansas City, Mo. He is a 2013 graduate of the University of Iowa and covers the intersections of sports with business and the law.

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