William Hill settlement: “A wake-up call to any entity looking to acquire a UK operator"

Following William Hill’s record £19.2m ($23.6m) settlement with the Gambling Commission for multiple safer gambling and anti-money laundering failures, experts from across the industry have commented on the specific reasons behind the failings and how it affects William Hill going forward.

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Keystone Law’s Gambling Partner & Specialist, Richard Williams, has outlined many of the questions that the settlement brings about 888’s purchase of William Hill in the summer of 2022 from previous owner, Caesars.

“The £19.2m financial penalty issued by the Gambling Commission to 888, the new owner of William Hill, will be a wake-up call to any entity looking to acquire a gambling business operating in Great Britain,” said Williams.

“When 888 acquired the non-US assets of William Hill from Caesars in July 2022, it would have known about the Gambling Commission’s ongoing investigation, which resulted in this fine.

"This would have been disclosed as part of the due diligence process when 888 acquired the business. The anticipated fine would therefore have been reflected in the £1.95bn purchase price that 888 ultimately paid to acquire the business.”

Williams also commented on why the Gambling Commission hadn’t revoked William Hill’s licence, which the Commission said it had seriously considered, adding: “It’s clear that the Gambling Commission was considering suspending the William Hill operating licences, due to the nature of the regulatory failings.

“The Gambling Commission has indicated that the regulatory position at William Hill has improved significantly since 888 took over the business. Time will tell whether the expanded business has taken steps to finally resolve these issues.”

Finally, Williams commented on how William Hill moves forward after the settlement: “From a business perspective, implementing rigorous anti-money laundering and social responsibility procedures is likely to slow down customer spending and ultimately reduce revenue for the combined business.”

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