The Nevada Gaming Commission have begun issuing licenses for online gambling, after the state passed laws last year legalising internet gambling. Amongst the recipients are William Hill, one of the UK’s gambling giants, who are now able to operate sports betting in the United States – the first British company to be allowed to do so.
William Hill acquired three American gambling firms last year – AWI, Brandywine and Cal Neva – in a deal though to be worth around £35 million ($55 million) but the deal was subject to the British firm successfully acquiring a license to operate in the United States.
The companies are thought to be responsible for 55% of sports betting activity in Nevada, accounting for around 11% of a market believed to be worth £1.7 billion. Thanks to the acquisition of the gaming license, the deal should go through later this month and if all goes to plan, they will be consolidated under the William Hill name in time for the NFL season.
William Hill CEO Ralph Topping was understandably delighted with the news, which makes his company the first British firm legally allowed to operate sports betting in the US: “A Nevada gaming licence is recognised around the world as a significant regulatory seal of approval and we are proud to have earned it,” he said.
“We are now able to bring together these three businesses to create a leading position in the US sports betting market. We look forward to working with our new colleagues to grow a leadership position in the US gaming industry.”
The gambling license acquired by William Hill is for mobile sports betting only. It does not cover William Hill Online, which operates casino, bingo and poker, but Topping remains upbeat: “Mobile gaming is the fastest growing part of our business, and this adds a new dimension for us,” he said.
The license, no matter how restrictive, still gives William Hill a distinct advantage over the opposition should online gambling in the United States ever be totally legalised. At present, just four states allow sports betting – Nevada, Montana, Delaware and Oregon.
Other gaming licenses have been issued by the Nevada Gaming Commission, including to makers of slot machine games International Game Technology (IGT) and Bally Technologies Inc. Both gaming companies are hoping to partner up with casinos in Nevada to offer online poker amongst other things, via their machines.
Nevada’s Gaming Control Board have instructed both IGT and Bally to have their technology tested and if it meets requirements, they could be allowed to go live by the end of 2012 or early in 2013.