Caesars-William Hill Buyout Could Delay The App’s Indiana Launch

Posted on October 1, 2020 - Last Updated on October 8, 2020

Caesars is adding another big company to its portfolio.

The gaming titan is acquiring William Hill for $3.7 billion.

The deal is expected to close in the second half of 2021, assuming things go off without a hitch.

The UK-based sportsbook has been expanding into the US for handful of years now.

William Hill’s online betting app just launched in Colorado back in September.

The sportsbook could have been in Indiana last year, but the company is taking its time with the launch.

Long wait for William Hill

The first step toward launching an online sportsbook in Indiana is obtaining a temporary vendor license from the Indiana Gaming Commission (IGC).

Typically, a sportsbook will open for business within a few months of snagging its license.

For example, BetMGM launched in Indiana on Feb. 25, 2020. It received its license on Jan. 13, so the entire launch process took less than two months.

William Hill has thrown that regular timeline out the window.

The company received its license all the way back in August 2019, but it hasn’t moved a muscle since.

Unlike some other operators that prefer to stick to online-only betting, William Hill likes to have skin in the retail sportsbook game.

In Indiana, William Hill runs Tropicana Evansville’s retail sportsbook.

Caesars recently acquired the Tropicana, and with its William Hill buyout in tow, the retail book at the casino will finally be part of the same company.

William Hill delay?

Caesars is making big moves in the gaming world.

Back in July, the company merged with Eldorado Resorts in a $17 billion deal. That’s how Caesars acquired Tropicana Evansville.

However, as part of the merger, Caesars has to sell three of its Indiana casinos. The Tropicana is one of the properties that will be switching hands.

That could end up adding more time to Indiana’s William Hill wait.

Since the license for William Hill’s mobile app is tied to the Tropicana, there’s a few ways that this could go.

Caesars selling Tropicana to a William Hill-friendly company is the best-case scenario for a timely launch.

If the new owner is willing to keep William Hill as one of its online partners, then things will go on without interruption.

But if the Tropicana’s new owner doesn’t want to work with William Hill, then the sportsbook will have to start from square one.

It would need a new license to partner with a different casino. In other words, it would hit the reset button on the launch process that William Hill has been working on since 2019.

Of course, Caesars could elect to move William Hill’s license and partner it with one of its other Indiana properties.

Again, it would be hitting the reset button on the process, but it’s probably the most likely outcome.

If William Hill is tethered to a Caesars property, then Caesars gets to keep all of the revenue in-house instead of splitting it with a different entity.

Since we’re already over a year into the launch process, William Hill probably isn’t in any hurry to open for business in Indiana.

Assuming that William Hill does tether itself to a different Caesars property, Indiana Grand Casino and Harrah’s Hoosier Park would be two great candidates for the sportsbook’s new home.

Caesars app Indiana

So what does the William Hill deal mean for the Caesars Sportsbook app? So far, that’s not entirely clear.

Caesars’ online sportsbook came online in Indiana back in May.

However, it’s struggled to gain ground in the state since its launch. The sportsbook only brought in $340,000 in handle in August.

That was the second-lowest mark in the entire state. BetAmerica is the only sportsbook with worse numbers.

Now that Caesars is acquiring William Hill, it may eventually decide to sunset its original online sportsbook app.

After all, William Hill is already a big name in the sportsbook world. Since it specializes in sports betting, that type of move could make sense for the company.

But even if Caesars’ sportsbook is heading out the door in the future, that wouldn’t mean the end of the Caesars app in Indiana.

Indiana doesn’t have legal online casinos yet, but they’re likely coming into the fold at some point in the state’s future.

Once they’re finally in the picture, Caesars will want a piece of the action.

Caesars takes in business from both sides of the aisle in other states that already have sportsbooks and online casinos. With William Hill under its arm, Caesars will eventually be doing the same thing in Indiana.

Regardless of what happens with the original sportsbook app itself, between William Hill, online casinos and its retail properties throughout the state, Caesars will have a big presence in Indiana for years to come.

Photo by AP Newsroom
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Jake Garza

Jake Garza is a US Gambling Industry Analyst for Catena Media. He specializes in Midwest sports betting and casino content. Prior to covering the legal gambling industry, he spent time as a professional sports writer, reporting on teams such as the Cincinnati Bengals, Indianapolis Colts and Indiana Pacers. Garza is currently working as a Managing Editor for PlayIndiana and PlayOhio, with previous stops at other well-known brands such as PlayIllinois and PlayMichigan. He has been covering the gambling industry since 2019, and currently works with a team of other journalists to provide comprehensive coverage of the legal U.S. gambling industry.

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