he Nevada Gaming Control Board on Wednesday recommended approval of licenses for both William Hill and Bally's.
William Hill US, which has more than 120 sportsbook and kiosk locations across the state and is a subsidiary of UK-based William Hill Plc, would become the centerpiece of Caesars’ sports wagering operation if the board’s unanimous recommendation of licenses that would give Caesars Entertainment control over the sportsbook chain is adopted by the Nevada Gaming Commission when it meets March 18, as reported by Las Vegas Review- Journal.
Caesars' acquisition of William Hill is scheduled to close on March 23. The two companies currently operate as a U.S. joint venture with 20% and 80% equity ownership respectively. Via the existing joint venture, William Hill runs online sports betting operations through Caesars’ market access in each state and retail sports betting operations in Caesars’ properties as well as those of other casino operators around the United States. Caesars owns and operates 54 domestic properties in 16 states. The company’s resorts operate primarily under the Caesars, Harrah’s, Horseshoe and Eldorado brand names.
Caesars CEO Tom Reeg said he expects sportsbooks to help drive traffic to other parts of the casino. “We’ve seen customers show up that were not otherwise coming that skews younger, tends to be a table-games customer, tends to drink a lot of beer — all good for a casino operator,” Reeg said.
In addition, NGCB members also recommended unanimous approval on a series of licenses that would register Bally’s Corp. as a publicly traded company in the state, operate the Montbleu resort in Stateline at Lake Tahoe and issue favorable suitability findings for several of its executives. Final approval is also scheduled March 18.
Testimony centered on the company’s planned operation of the Montbleu, which it acquired in a two-property package deal for $155 million as part of Eldorado Resorts’ bid to divest properties in advance of its acquisition of Caesars. Bally’s was an alternate buyer after Eldorado had originally announced it was selling to privately held Maverick Gaming.
Bally’s is not affiliated with the Strip casino with the same name, but it does have a connection with the casino’s owner Caesars, as it acquired the Bally’s brand from the company in November. As of December, it owned and operated 11 casinos that comprise 13,260 slot machines, 459 game tables, and 2,941 hotel rooms, as well as a horse racetrack across seven states.
Bally’s President and CEO George Papanier told board members his company has one of the best regional gaming footprints in the market and the third-largest footprint for online sports betting in the United States. Board members also questioned how Bally’s would leverage its recently announced partnership with Sinclair Broadcast Group Inc.
Sinclair, which operates 21 sports networks and 188 television stations across the United States, including KSNV Channel 3, Las Vegas’ NBC affiliate, plans to incorporate Bally’s branding into its regional sports networks.