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British Bookie Wants Bigger Piece Of U.S. Sports Betting Action Via Deal With Casino Operator

London-based betting firm William Hill is in talks with U.S. casino giant Penn National Gaming to take advantage, in some kind of partnership, of the newly liberalized sports betting market in the United States. 


The negotiations are part of a wider gold rush among casinos and other gaming interests in response to the U.S. Supreme Court's decision in May that struck down the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act, the law that previously prevented states from regulating sports gambling.

William Hill responded almost immediately to the high court decision by opening New Jersey's first legal sports betting facility at Monmouth Park Racetrack in June. The opening was so high-profile that New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy placed the ceremonial first bets. Another William Hill facility is in the works in Atlantic City.

Monmouth Park Sports Book, as the facility is known, offers a sports betting menu that includes football, basketball, baseball, hockey, soccer, tennis and other games.  The complex features a 15-window main sports book, and a sports bar with over 40 HDTVs showing live sporting events. 

New Jersey is at the front of the line in sports betting because it already had legislation in place to regulate the industry when the Supreme Court made its ruling. As other states formulate their regulatory frameworks for sports betting, William Hill is eyeing U.S. expansion.

The company already operates 108 of Nevada's 190 sports betting facilities. Previously, Nevada was the only state with legal sports betting.

The potential deal with Penn National is still in a preliminary stage, according to the U.K. publication The Times, citing anonymous sources. Such a deal would link William Hill's sports betting expertise with the real estate footprint of Penn National, which operates 29 casinos in 16 states, mostly under the Hollywood brand.

Other U.K. bookmakers are vying for a piece of the sports betting action as well. Ladbrokes' owner, GVC, has formed a $200M JV with casino operator MGM, and Paddy Power Betfair (an Irish bookie) recently struck an agreement to merge its U.S. operations with FanDuel.