Caesars Entertainment’s acquisition of sports betting giant William Hill has cleared its antitrust period.
The deal should now go ahead as expected, with various governing bodies in the US also giving their blessings.
Both parties hope they can finalise the deal before the end of Q1 2021, though further approval is still needed.
“A historic acquisition”
Caesars confirmed that it had terminated the deal’s waiting period early. This was under the 1976 Hart-Scott-Rodino Antitrust Improvements Act.
The operator said in a statement:
“Caesars continues to progress through obtaining all necessary regulatory approvals required to close the transaction and is still aiming to complete the proposed combination in March 2021.”
In November 2020, key figures at William Hill voted in favour of the American betting and entertainment titan’s proposed purchase.
At the time, the acquisition was hailed as “historic”.
Caesars already owned 20% of the shares in William Hill’s US entity before its £2.9 billion takeover offer was accepted last year.
Apollo, a firm based in the UK, also showed interest in buying William Hill. However, Las Vegas-based Caesars warned that an Apollo takeover could damage their relationship.
Regulatory bodies across the US in favour of the deal
Mississippi’s primary gambling regulator had already approved the Caesars-William Hill US merger in November last year. One month later, the West Virginia Lottery did likewise.
The deal is still waiting for the green light from a host of other regulators, including those in Nevada, Indiana, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania.
Work still to be done
When they voted for Caesars’ acquisition, William Shareholders agreed to a 272p per share cash offer. 86% of votes at shareholder meetings said “yes” to the deal worth nearly £3 billion.
However, the deal still needs approval in the UK – not just the US.
The English Court will decide whether or not the deal should go through, while other conditions related to regulation also need to be met.
William Hill’s soon-to-be joint venture with Caesars in the US is an addition to changes it has made in the UK. At the end of the first COVID-19 lockdown in the country last year, the operator said it would not reopen over 10 of its betting shops.
According to William Hill, the number of customers expected to return to these stores was not deemed worthy enough to keep them open.
Betting shops across the country have been forced to close again recently, in the latest attempts to slow the spread of the virus. In a statement, the Betting and Gaming Council (BGC) labelled these latest closures as “unfortunate”.