A major UK and US sportsbook operator set its sights on Latin America. William Hill has purchased a majority share in Alfabet S.A.S. a Colombian gaming firm. The sportsbook operator has been making a name for itself in the U.S. sports betting market and entering an agreement to be bought by Caesars Entertainment. The details of the agreement between William Hill and Alfabet have not been disclosed as well as the exact stake that was procured.
Colombia is the very first Latin American country that has achieved and established the first licensing system that is similar to what can be found in Europe. Over the last few years, Colombia has been progressive regarding its gambling regulations. According to a statement made by William Hill, the company and industry analysts believe that there is strong growth potential in the country when it comes to the regulated gambling market. Alfabet procured a Colombian gaming license in 2018 and operates under the brand BetAlfa. BetAlfa provides sports betting services and iGaming to players in Colombia.
Thus far, Colombia has awarded 20 gaming permits over the past few years, to operators keen on expanding its business and services to the Latin American market. The number of licenses given to operators represents the fact that the Latin American market is a competitive one. The Colombian gaming market piques the interest of gaming companies given that the country Is ranked as the fourth-largest country in Latin America according to Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Argentina, Mexico and Brazil sit in the top three in Latin America.
There has recently been an influx in interest and entries into the Latin American Market. Western sportsbook operators have been pushing their way into Latin America, with William Hill only being the latest operator to enter the market. In December 2020, FanDuel, a division of Flutter Entertainment announced that it was partnering with CAGE Sports BV to procure a sports betting license in Latin America, as well as the Caribbean. These companies intend to be operational in Latin America in either the first or second quarter of 2021. Though, the first targeted markets that the companies will go live in are going to be Bermuda and Barbados.
Furthermore, another rival of William Hill’s, Entain which was formerly known as GVC Holdings Plc, has also stated that the company will make moves toward pushing into Colombia. Observers of the industry have made educated guesses as to why European gaming companies are moving into the region. The move into Colombia could be a first step to reaching their goals of getting into the Brazillian market. Brazil is seen as the greatest option for gaming expansion in Latin America. The country is home to the largest population and economy in Latin America. The country is a sought-after market for sportsbook operators and integrated resort operators. Regulatory protocols and licensing are yet to be determined, even though fixed-odds sports wagering was legalized in 2018. Given that the country is looking for ways to supplement its revenue, regulations could be sped up. Companies such as William Hill that have the expertise in the market could be advantageous for the sportsbook operator when licensing is eventually finalized.
The Caesars Entertainment board has already approved the acquisition of William Hill and is still in the process of finalizing the details. The deal inked between Alfabet and William hill made no mention of Caesars and this was likely done on purpose. Caesars will likely divest William Hill’s international divisions once the deal has been finalized. The company’s European assets could potentially fetch a total of $2 billion that would recover the bulk of the $3.69 billion that will be paid for the acquisition. However, there have been no reports regarding how long Caesars would wait after the deal has been finalized and what the latest move into Latin America would mean for the deal. The move into a new market could garner more interest in WIlliam Hill’s international divisions and is yet to be seen what Caesars will do with the latest addition to the company’s arsenal.