Analysis

Would name change affect William Hill’s Wedge Index rating?

In the wake of a likely rebrand, an increased focus on Caesars’ sportsbook brand could see it gain top-tier status on the Wedge Index.

Following the buyout of William Hill by Caesars Entertainment the strong likelihood is that the new owners will look at rebranding the sports-betting operation.

As it stands, the name William Hill remains a lesser name in the US gaming space. 

Despite the market access potential of reaching the 25 states Caesars Entertainment operates in, William Hill remains a second-tier brand with the Wedge Index.

This places it behind top tier brands such as FanDuel, DraftKings, BetMGM, FOX Bet and new entrant to the market Barstool Sportsbook.

According to the sportsbook weightings used by the Wedge Index, the top tier brands add four points to whichever state they operate in, while second tier brands are worth three points to each state. 

Brand resonance

It seems likely a change of name will follow the $3.7bn acquisition by Caesars Entertainment confirmed last week. 

Caesars is a much more storied name in US gaming via its Las Vegas Strip presence, but to date it is an untested brand name in sports betting. 

Within the current Wedge Index weighting Caesars is also a second-tier brand. However, the new combination could push the brand to new brand recognition heights.

Previous to the buyout, Caesars owned a 20% stake in William Hill US and as part of the buyout, the group said it was likely to “seek partners” for the UK and international elements of William Hill. 

This is likely to end either in a management buyout or a sale or merger.

Nevada leader

Until now William Hill has been operating under its own brand name in the US, particularly in Nevada where it has a leading position.

Despite its lowly brand weighting on the Wedge Index, it is its Nevada business which accounts for William Hill’s substantial share of the US sports-betting market.

A large part of its revenues in New Jersey comes from its land-based betting presence thanks to partnerships with the Monmouth Park racetrack and the Ocean Report and Tropicana casinos. 

William Hill said the US was worth 7% of total revenues in the first half of this year, or £38.2m in gross gaming revenue. This represented a 28% fall on the first six months of 2019 and was caused by the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic lockdowns.

Other weighting factors

The company has operations live in 12 states including Illinois, Mississippi, Iowa and Colorado. 

As of the end of February, William Hill said it was responsible for 23% of all US sports-betting gross win. Adding in the extra Caesars properties will give the combination a 29% share of the US sports-betting market.

Further factors to consider for which ever brand the new owners choose to run with include the recently signed media deals with CBS and ESPN. 

The enhanced name recognition, which is the aim of the deals, could yet help William Hill/Caesars to become a top tier brand.

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Scott Longley

Scott Longley has been a journalist since the early noughties covering personal finance, sport and the gambling industry. He has worked for a number of publications including Investor's Week, Bloomberg Money, Football First, EGR and GamblingCompliance.com. He now writes for online and print titles across a wide range of sectors.

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