Eighty-six percent of William Hill shareholders approved the company’s £2.9 billion takeover by US casino giant Caesars Entertainment. That comfortably surpassed the 75% needed for the deal to receive the green light. Last week, rival Apollo Holdings officially pulled out, leaving Caesars as the sole bidder.
Caesars Entertainment chief executive Tom Reeg said: “We are pleased to have received William Hill shareholder support for our recommended cash offer. We continue to work towards satisfying the remaining regulatory conditions and look forward to completing the transaction next year and integrating William Hill US into our Caesars sports betting and iGaming franchise.”
Caesars will aim to complete the deal by March 2021. It will then immediately sell all non-US assets, which account for the vast majority of the firm’s turnover. Apollo Holdings, Betfred and 888 have all been named as potential buyers for the non-US business.
A Scottish pensioner has revealed his delight after being given a surprise refund on a £2,000 bet on Rangers to win the 2019/20 SPL title. Steven Gerrard’s men were 13 points behind rivals Celtic when the season was abandoned in March due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Celtic were declared the champions, and bookmakers paid out on the Hoops winning the title. However, Ladbrokes decided to void bets that still had a “mathematical chance” of winning. He is now locked in a battle with rival William Hill to secure a refund on a £1,000 bet he placed on Rangers winning the league.
James Graham, 83, of Cambuslang, near Glasgow, said: “I had no idea. I was lucky, really, because Rangers wouldn’t have won the league but the rules state that if the football is not completed you’re entitled to your money back. Umpteen people who I told in my local area said they didn’t know the rules. How many could that be across Scotland? People could be due thousands.”
William Hill refused to pay out. A spokesman said: “Celtic were crowned champions. As such, we paid out on Celtic. If we voided all bets, those who backed Celtic would be up in arms, pointing to the fact they were crowned by the SFA.”
888 Holdings has started to roll out a new Control Centre that allows customers to monitor their betting patterns across its various websites. Players will be able to access the Control Centre at the top of each site, such as 888 Sport and 888 Casino.
The site will initially be accessible to British customers, and then localised versions will be rolled out in other markets over the coming months. Chief executive Itai Pazner said it will make player protection tools more visible and bring in additional safer gambling features.
“Our business rests on ensuring our customers are empowered to make safe and responsible decisions about their gambling,” said Pazner. “We are committed to continually investing in our teams and technology to prevent gambling-related harm and we are confident that this innovative feature will offer customers new levels of data and clear, transparent insights that will help them to stay informed and in control.”
UK Gambling Commission chief executive Neil McArthur reminded online gambling companies to follow stricter rules on customer protection during the lockdown. The regulator introduced tighter rules around affordability checks, the prevention of reverse withdrawals and restrictions on bonus offers in May.
It followed concerns that some people were at a greater risk of harm during lockdown. McArthur said the UK is on track to becoming “the safest place in the world to gamble”, but warned operators to stick to the guidelines.
“For some consumers, the start of lockdown saw them gambling online for the first time, while others tried new online products such as virtual sports or higher risk games,” he said. “This was why we moved swiftly to address the risks we saw and why we introduced new guidance to help reduce the risk of gambling harm.
“However, I want to be clear once again that those guidelines are unchanged. With two more weeks of restriction measures facing us, consumer protection and responsible marketing continues to be of paramount importance.”