William Hill, the British bookmaker, has closed its online sports betting business in Australia, probably to protect its application for a Nevada Gaming license which is currently pending.
So far William Hill have not commented but sent an email to their Australian customers requesting that they withdraw the funds from their accounts. According to Australia’s Interactive Gaming Act of 2001 it is illegal to provide casino and poker games to Australian residents. Violating this can lead to fines of up to $1.1 million per day. Whilst no one has ever been fined, William Hill’s decision to pull out occurred just a few days ahead of the Nevada Gaming Control Board’s initial hearing on the company’s purchase of three Nevada sports book operators.
William Hill spent over $53 million last year in order to purchase American Wagering Inc, Brandywine Boookmaking LLC and Club Cal Neva Satellite Race, all of which are based in Nevada.
There has been speculation that William Hill could run into problems due to their joint venture with Playtech whose founder, Teddy Sagi, has a previous conviction for bribery and fraud and as a result spent nine months in jail in 1996. Ralph Topping, the CEO of William Hill, recently confirmed that Nevada regulators have expressed interest in William Hill’s relationship with Playtech and requested more information from the company.
If William Hill is recommended by the Gaming Control Board then the Nevada Gaming Commission will discuss William Hill’s license application on June 21. William Hill are hoping to break into the hugely successful gambling market in Nevada where last year over $2.8 billion was spent on sports betting. At present Nevada is the only state where sports betting is legal on a full range of events and leagues, including the National Football League and Barclay’s Premier League.