William Hill eyes Australian expansion by entering CrownBet takeover talks

Philip Bowcock

Crown Resorts, the Australian gaming and entertainment group, and William Hill have both moved to confirm discussions have taken place, and are ongoing, regarding the formers 62% stake in online betting firm CrownBet.

Speculation first came to light in The Australian newspaper, that ‘in depth’ talks over a potential deal were believed to ongoing between governances.

Presenting a statement to the media, Crown Resorts commented: “Crown Resorts Limited notes media speculation today in relation to consolidation in the online wagering industry, including in relation to CrownBet, which is 62% owned by Crown.

“Crown evaluates opportunities regarding its investments from time to time. Crown confirms that it is in discussions concerning its interest in CrownBet. There is no certainty as to whether any transaction will eventuate.”

With FTSE bookmaker William Hill offering more detail within its own statement in response to speculation, adding: “ William Hill confirms that it is in very preliminary discussions with CrownBet, the 62% owned online wagering business of Crown Resorts, regarding a possible combination of William Hill Australia, a wholly owned subsidiary of William Hill, and CrownBet.

At present, the bookmaker reaffirms that “There is no certainty that these preliminary discussions will lead to any transaction.”

This week, Philip Bowcock reiterated the importance of William Hill expanding its international footprint in order to counter any potential roadblocks in its home UK market.

“We are still predominantly UK-based with UK revenues, and if you think that regulation is only going in one direction then by default you need to start thinking about diversification outside the UK,” Bowcock detailed to investors and analysts

William Hill’s increased interest Australian expansion, follows this week’s decision by the Australian Competition Tribunal (ACT), to grant the go-ahead for a Tabcorp and Tatts Group merger creating the outright ‘Australian gambling market leader’. 

The ongoing process, which was referred back to the ACT from the full federal court following objections made by both CrownBet and the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCT), is currently in a 28 day appeals period. Tabcorp governance has stated that it hopes have the merger implemented by the close of the year.

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