Gaming Economics CEO Lee Richardson believes Entain's interest in William Hill's non-US assets is an "unexpected development," and believes UK regulators may certainly have something to say about a potential deal.
Operator Entain has emerged as a contender to acquire William Hill’s non-US assets, months after the organisation rejected a takeover bid from MGM Resorts International in January.
But Richardson told Gambling Insider: "This news is a rather unexpected development, as most industry observers assumed a sale by Caesars' of William Hill's ex-US assets would most likely break-up the online and retail arms, in order to avoid possible market, or competition, issues and help expedite a deal.
"I'd be certain the UK Competition & Markets Authority (CMA) will take a view about any such prospective William Hill bidder as, although the UK online and retail landscape has changed hugely over the past decade, they'll still need to consider continued consumer choice, on both the high street and online."
According to Richardson, 888 Holdings and Apollo Global Management are still very likely bidders for William Hill's assets, which could create a bidding war with Entain.
He explained: "Interestingly, at a recent earnings call, when 888 was asked about the likely interest level in the ex-US William Hill assets, they certainly did not rule out the possibility of taking on both the retail and the non-retail assets. There would, conceivably, be less market or competition issues for that bidder.
"Nonetheless, we could have another bidding war on our hands involving Entain, to go alongside the current battle down-under, for the Tabcorp betting assets potentially up for sale. And who knows, perhaps Apollo Management – Entain's adversary in Australia – may yet pitch in too."