by Renee Israel
Speculation is rife in the market as to the reasons for the delay in
William Hill's Nevada gaming license.
William Hill is a leading British bookmaker and like many other gaming
companies, has taken strategic steps to be present in the US sports betting
market as and when it legally opens up.
Last year William Hill acquired three sports betting operators located in
Nevada, namely American Wagering, Brandywine and Cal Neva Sportsbook. Thereafter
it applied for a license from the Nevada Gaming Control Board (GCB).
However, the processing of the application is being delayed and apparently it
has not been included in the agenda of the meeting the GCB for May 2012. A three
member committee of the GCB has to approve the applications, where once the
approval is obtained, the Nevada Gaming Commission automatically issues the
In February Ralph Topping, chief executive of William Hill, told shareholders
that the Nevada license was under review and was expected to be issued by the
summer of 2012. However, the latest response on the matter from the bookmaker's
spokesman was, "We said that this process would take between 12 to 18 months and
we believe that a decision will be made in that time frame. We are fully
complying with the whole process and have no further comment to make."
Unofficial sources in the GCB point to a couple of issues that need to be
Delay in William Hill Nevada Gaming License
The speculation is that two instances of past market abuse have surfaced and
these are the real reasons for the delay in granting the Nevada gaming license.
As such, the Nevada GCB is looking to investigate these issues in detail.
Robin Chhabra is William Hill's head of strategy and corporate development,
and the mastermind behind the acquisitions of the Nevada-based sports betting
companies. However, in 2010 Chhabra was fined £95,000 by the Financial Services
Authority for passing confidential information to a friend, which is obviously a
concern for the Nevada Gaming Commission.
But up until now, neither William Hill nor the GCB chairman Mark Lipparelli
have responded to specific questions put to them about Chhabra's past
indiscretion. William Hill though did point out that Chhabra is not likely to
run the acquired Nevada businesses.
The second stumbling block is Teddy Sagi who was convicted in 1994 of
manipulating stock prices. Later he set up the hugely successful online gaming
software firm Playtech, amassing a personal fortune in the process. And although
Sagi no longer runs Playtech, he is still a 40% owner. Playtech in turn is a
partner with William Hill in the highly profitable William Hill Online. Writing
in his blog Topping said, "I haven't felt this closely assessed since I met my
prospective father-in-law for the first time!!"