Nevada’s green light for gaming licence allows William Hill to gain foothold in US

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Bookmaker William Hill will launch its first US operation when it completes three acquisitions next week, following the award of a licence by the Nevada Gaming Commission.

William Hill, Britain’s largest bookmaker, had announced the purchase last year of the American companies but the deal was conditional on the granting of the licence.

The green light from the Nevada Gaming Commission after a hearing on Thursday allows the firm to begin offering sports betting on mobile devices and positions the company to be among the first out of the gate should legal restrictions on US online gaming be lifted.

“This now enables us to establish William Hill’s first ever US operation, an important part of our international growth strategy,” said chief executive Ralph Topping.

The company would combine its own brand and product range with the local footprint established by the three firms – AWI, Brandywine and Cal Neva, he said.

The acquisitions are expected to be completed on June 27 for approximately $49m in total.

A familiar name on the high street, William Hill generated more than 90 per cent of its revenues in Britain last year but is seeking to expand in regulated overseas markets.

It was one of a number of British companies granted licences this month for online gaming in Spain.

“Mobile gaming is the fastest growing part of our business, and this adds a new dimension for us,” said Mr Topping.

Two years ago, he said, the company was taking in $1.5m (£961,000) a week from mobile gamblers in the United Kingdom. Today, it handles $25m a week.

The London-based company, which says it has more than 2,370 betting parlours across Great Britain, entered the Nevada market in the spring of 2011 by agreeing to pay $55m to acquire three sports gaming companies.

It intends to continue to operate those as “brick and mortar.”

With Nevada’s approval, Mr Topping said the company intends to make more acquisitions.

It “had offers coming out of the woodwork” as it neared regulatory approval, he said.

Online gambling provided 28 per cent of William Hill’s $1.7bn (£1.1bn), in revenue last year, according to company filings.