William Hill Moving Fast in U.S.

That didn’t take long.

Last week, London-based bookmaker William Hill received approval from the Nevada Gaming Commission to officially acquire Brandywine Bookmaking (which operates Lucky’s sportsbooks in several Nevada casinos), American Wagering (which runs Leroy’s books) and Club Cal Neva (which are mostly found in Northern Nevada). On June 28, William Hill’s United Kingdom office sent out a news release announcing a long-term deal with Affinity Gaming, which used to be, more or less, Herbst Gaming, and owns casinos in Primm Valley, Las Vegas, Northern Nevada, Iowa and Missouri.

The deal obviously only covers the Nevada properties, since Nevada remains the only state in the U.S. where sports betting is legal. In and of itself, it’s not particularly newsworthy, unless you’ve been on pins and needles waiting for upgrades at the Terrible’s Las Vegas and Buffalo Bill’s sportsbooks.

What is interesting, though, is that the news release confirmed what had long been suspected: that former Brandywine CEO Joe Asher (profiled in Vegas Seven’s People Issue earlier this year) is the new CEO of William Hill U.S. His portfolio is likely to grow considerably over the next year. In addition to running the 164 sportsbooks that William Hill has acquired in the States, Asher still helms the formerly Brandywine role of “exclusive risk manager” for Delaware’s state lottery.

What does that mean? Essentially, a few years ago Delaware sought to get into the sports-betting business. It hired Asher to build and run sportsbooks for its three lottery-owned racetrack casinos. An unfavorable court ruling meant that Asher could only offer parlay card-betting and not the more popular single-contest spread betting, but with a court challenge to 1992’s Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act—which outlawed new sports betting in states that never before had it— working its way through the system, it’s likely that it won’t be limited to parlay cards forever.

Oh, and Delaware legalized online gaming today. It’s going to be run by the Lottery Commission, which will offer online slots and table games. Sounds like a job for its “exclusive risk manager.” And it’s expanding football betting to another 20 locations. Add to that neighboring New Jersey’s stated interest in offering sports betting, and it becomes clear that William Hill U.S. is going to be living up to its name in the near future.