Bookmaker William Hill is giving 29 percent of its online business to web gaming software maker Playtech, in a deal that sees the pair form a JV aiming to become Europe’s leading online gaming operator. The Dublin vendor will immediately invest $250 million in various online gaming assets to contribute to the William Hill Online JV, locks Playtech in to provide online poker and casino games for a minimum five years, based on its forthcoming Orbis platform.
William Hill CEO Ralph Topping (via Guardian.co.uk): “We could not stay the way we were, it was not an option – we were weak.” William Hill said AIM-listed Playtech gives it “online marketing and customer retention expertise”. The JV forecasts 2008 sales of £190 million – above the £68 million William Hill Interactive recorded for the first half of this year, though integrating the pair will suck up £24 million and will take until next September. Release.
In Q3 earnings yesterday, William Hill Interactive acknowledged: “In a challenging, competitive environment, poker has suffered from weak player liquidity. The performance of both poker and casino have been impacted by William Hill Interactive being a predominantly UK focused business built on sports betting with limited online gaming expertise.” Release.