International edition
September 21, 2020

The firm is looking to expand its UK retail footprint

William Hill looks to buy the Tote

(UK).- William Hill has expressed an interest in buying the UK state-owned betting firm the Tote, despite current competition rules possibly preventing the purchase.

T

he bookmaker is looking to expand its UK retail footprint and its announcement that it would be interested in buying the Tote follows rivals Paddy Power and Ladbrokes expressing their interest in the acquisition.

The announcement follows the Secretary of State Jeremy Hunt saying last week, “we have no desire to keep the Tote as part of the public sector”. The Government currently appoints the board of the Tote.

Ralph Topping, chief executive of William Hill, said: “To ensure that this is truly an "open market" sale we believe that the Office of Fair Trading needs to revisit the archaic competition tests which have looked at the market in terms of betting shops - the true market is a global one that includes online and betting exchanges.

“We would be disappointed if the "open market" sale was burdened with any onerous preconditions which might reduce the sale value of the Tote. “To those who think these archaic competition tests from the turn of the century are appropriate, we suggest they Google the word “betting” and wake up to the global market at their fingertips.”

William Hill Online launched its Austrian betting site today in a bid to tap into the country’s lucrative sports betting market, which is said to be worth 110 million euros per year. The new site will have a strong focus on Austrian football and has a new ad campaign starring actor John Cleese, using the tagline ‘Wetten wie die Briten’ or ‘Bet like the British’.

Henry Birch, CEO of William Hill Online, said at the launch, “The Austrians have a real passion for sport and sports betting, and we believe they’ll get an unrivalled betting and gaming service on our new Austrian site.”

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