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William Hill Limited, headquartered in London, England, is a worldwide online gaming corporation. Before being purchased by Caesars Entertainment in April 2021, it was formerly listed on the London Stock Exchange as a publicly traded company.
In 1934, William Hill established a business that bears his name. It has changed ownership many times, first being purchased by Sears Holdings in 1971, then by Grand Metropolitan in 1988, and finally by Brent Walker in 1989, among other occasions. Brent Walker was able to recover £117 million of the £685 million it had spent for William Hill when it was discovered that Grand Metropolitan had overstated the company’s earnings at the time of the transaction in September 1996.
Nomura, a Japanese investment bank, completed a £700 million leveraged buyout of William Hill in 1997 after Brent Walker failed with debts surpassing £1.3 billion following an investigation by the Serious Fraud Office, which resulted in imprisonment of two of the company’s directors. An attempted initial public offering (IPO) on the New York Stock Exchange was scrapped in February 1999 owing to “poor demand,” and Nomura instead sold the business for £825 million to funds controlled by private equity companies Cinven and CVC Capital Partners.
In 2002, the business was finally registered on the London Stock Exchange as a public limited company. The next year, Chief Executive David Harding received a bonus of £2.84 million, making him the sixth highest paid business director in the United Kingdom in 2003. It purchased the Sunderland Greyhound Stadium in 2002, and the Newcastle Greyhound Stadium in 2003, both of which are located in the United Kingdom. In June 2004, Chief Executive David Harding sold £5.2 million in shares to finance his divorce, causing a sharp drop in the company’s stock price that resulted in a £75 million loss in the company’s worth.
For £504 million, William Hill acquired 624 betting offices in the United Kingdom, Republic of Ireland, Isle of Man, and Jersey from Stanley Leisure. The acquisition briefly propelled William Hill past Ladbrokes into first place in the UK betting market in terms of shops, but not in terms of revenue. In 2005, William Hill acquired 624 betting offices in the United Kingdom, Republic of Ireland, Isle of Man, and Jersey from Stanley Leisure. Because of concerns about anti-competitive tactics, the Office of Fair Trading ordered William Hill to divest 78 of the 624 Stanley stores it owned.
William Hill was delisted from the FTSE 100 Index in December 2005, after concerns that the firm had overpaid for the Stanley stores in the first instance. Ralph Topping was named as the company’s Chief Executive in 2008.  After dropping out of Strathclyde University as a self-described “rascal,” Topping took a Saturday job at a William Hill betting shop at Hampden Park in Glasgow where he worked his way up the ranks until he was promoted to manager. As a result of its own failed online business, William Hill formed a collaboration with Orbis and Israeli software firm Playtech in November 2008 to improve its performance.
When the firm’s debt reached above £1bn in November 2008, analysts at UBS expressed “alarm” about the amount of debt, which was subsequently estimated to be £1.5bn, according to the company. During 2009, the business raised funds via a rights offering as well as a corporate bond offering in an attempt to restructure its debt.
According to the terms of the agreement, William Hill paid Playtech’s founder Teddy Sagi a total of £144.5 million for different assets and affiliate businesses owned by the company. Included among them were several online casino sites, which William Hill continues to operate under the moniker WHG. Playtech has invested in the new William Hill Online company by purchasing a 29 percent share. When the firm decided to abandon its old in-house system, they wrote down an estimated £26 million. In June 2009, William Hill continued to support Playtech even though their partner’s stock market worth had been knocked off by a quarter after a profit warning.
It was in 2013 that William Hill paid £424 million ($643 million) for complete control of its online company, signaling the start of a rapid growth that culminated in the breakup of the joint venture with Playtech. In a regulatory clearance obtained on January 7, 2019, William Hill was able to complete its acquisition of Mr. Green for £242 million.
William Hill raised £224 million in a fresh ordinary share right offering on July 17, 2020, to give the company a much-needed cash infusion amid the COVID-19 epidemic. Announcing that it will shut 119 stores permanently in August 2020, the business said it was doing so because of the economic consequences of the COVID-19 epidemic. Despite this, only 16 workers would lose their jobs, with the other staff being moved to new roles. It also stated that the company’s retail and online activities will be merged into a single entity.
William Hill has agreed to a £2.9 billion acquisition offer by Caesars Entertainment, a Nevada-based casino operator, which would take effect on September 30, 2020. The transaction was unanimously approved by the directors of the UK-based business. It occurred after two competing offers by the private equity firm Apollo, based in the United States, were rejected. Caesars finalized its purchase of William Hill in April of 2021, according to the company. William Hill was delisted from the London Stock Exchange on April 22, 2021, and is no longer in operation.
On September 9, 2021, 888casino completed the acquisition of William Hill International from its US owners, Caesars Entertainment, for a total transaction price of £2.2 billion.
Working in the United Kingdom
In 2020, a William Hill betting store will open in Tottenham, London. The business runs 1,414 betting shops throughout the country. Other than online sportsbook activities, the business also provides online casino games, “skill games,” online bingo, and online poker to its customers worldwide. Since the passage of the Gambling Act in 2005, gaming machines have increased earnings to compensate for declining income in other sectors.
To prevent underage gambling in its retail locations, William Hill started a training program for its 10,000+ employee base in August 2010. In 2019, William Hill joined the ranks of the Betting and Gaming Council as a founding member.
Because of a disagreement with racecourses over TurfTV, William Hill threatened in 2007 to remove its sponsorship of several horse races. William Hill, who had been the channel’s most vocal opponent, was eventually compelled to do an embarrassing about-face and subscribed to the channel in January 2008.
In August 2009, William Hill signed a three-year sponsorship agreement with Málaga CF, a football team in Spain’s La Liga. The agreement was canceled early the following season due to religious concerns raised by the new club owner.
The business has been criticized by the trade unions Community and Unite for the way it treats its shop employees in its stores. The practices of exposing employees to danger by asking them to work alone in the office and expecting employees to do unpaid labor beyond the conclusion of their working day have been highlighted in particular.
Until serving as a Parliamentary adviser from 2001 to 2009, William Hill paid George Howarth MP a salary of £30,000 per year. While on the payroll of William Hill, he introduced amendments to the 2003 budget that proposed harsher levels of taxes for person-to-person betting exchanges, which were ultimately defeated. Howarth stepped down from the position after the 2009 spending controversy. When William Hill unveiled a prototype of “Get In The Race,” a virtual horse racing program, it was in May of that year. On August 2, 2016, it completed the acquisition of Grand Parade, an abetting and gambling digital solutions business, for a total of £13.6 million in cash and stock.
The Gambling Commission penalized William Hill £6.2 million in 2018 for persistent breaches in the areas of anti-money laundering and problem gambling, according to the company. In a criminal investigation, it was discovered that the operator had received significant cash deposits related to illegal activities between 2014 and 2016, resulting in financial profits of £1.2 million. Following the ruling, William Hill was forced to refund the £1.2 million profit as well as pay a £5 million fine for violating rules.
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