Caesars already owns three properties in Atlantic City: Tropicana, Caesars and Harrah’s Resort. The expansion means that Caesars will now operate sports betting in 18 states, including New Jersey.
“We are thrilled to complete the acquisition of William Hill, combining two of the premier operations in the sports betting and iGaming industries under one roof,” Caesars Chief Executive Officer Tom Reeg said in an April 22 statement.
William Hill operates the sportsbooks for Tropicana, Monmouth Park Racetrack and Ocean Resort Casino. The latter two are not owned by Caesars, and it is not immediately clear what impact this would have on their operations.
As part of the deal, Caesars will sell off William Hill’s non-U.S. properties, including several in the United Kingdom.
William Hill customers will have access to Caesars’ products, including its loyalty program and “single-wallet offering of sports betting and online gaming products across the enterprise,” the statement says.
New Jersey’s casino industry has been hammered by the COVID-19 pandemic and widespread shutdowns and later reduced capacities of brick and mortar operations. The state’s nine casinos had to shutter their doors for several months last year, and can only operate at 50% capacity.
Although online gaming and sports betting wins for the casinos have hit all-time highs during the pandemic, brick and mortar winnings have in turn cratered over the past 13 months. Casino in-person revenue in 2020 tanked by 80%, according to state gaming regulators.
The extended closures or limited capacity for retail, entertainment, food and dining, and events all continue to make Atlantic City’s unemployment rate among the worst in the state because of the pandemic.
“It seems clear that future success for the industry depends on optimizing both on-site and online offerings,” said Jane Bokunewicz, who heads the Lloyd D. Levenson Institute for Gaming, Hospitality and Tourism at Stockton University.