The billionaire founder of giant British bookmaker Betfred, Fred Done, has reportedly spent an undisclosed amount in order to purchase slightly over 3% of the shares in London-listed rival William Hill.
According to a Monday report from the Racing Post newspaper, the 77-year-old’s acquisition of some 874,189,537 shares means that he now holds a 3.03% stake in William Hill, which is responsible for in excess of 2,000 retail bookmakers spread across the United Kingdom as well as operations in nine of the 14 American states that have so far legalized sportsbetting.
The Racing Post reported that Done’s deal comes after William Hill chalked up an annual loss for 2019 of about £37.6 million ($48.9 million) largely due to the impact of stricter rules on fixed-odds betting terminals (FOBTs) in its home market. But, the London-headquartered firm also recently revealed that its William Hill US subsidiary had last year handled gross wagers of around £2.9 billion ($3.7 billion) and is now responsible for one in every four sports wagers placed in the United States.
Done reportedly told the Racing Post…
“I’ve bought shares in William Hill because it is massively undervalued and, in my opinion, when it comes to the United States it is the front-runner.”
The newspaper reported that European operators have been increasingly targeting the sportsbetting market of the United States in the wake of 2018’s invalidation of the previous Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) prohibition. William Hill purportedly already has a presence in the sports wagering hotspots of New Jersey, Indiana and Nevada and could eventually grow this footprint via a partnership with local casino operator Eldorado Resorts Incorporated to encompass up to 24 states.
For its part and Betfred has casino-based operations of its own in the American states of Pennsylvania, Iowa and Colorado while Done reportedly refused to be drawn on whether he may increase his stake in William Hill over the course of the coming months.