William Hill to withdraw from Ontario pending licence

By Zak Thomas-Akoo

888-owned online gaming operator William Hill has announced that it is temporarily withdrawing from Ontario as it awaits a licence to enter its regulated market, following Mr Green's spring exit from the province.

In an email to affiliates, it said the “strategic decision” had been made after a period of review – and that subsequently the operator would not be accepting new registrations in the province until after it had received approval to operate.

The email was sent via the Mr Green Affiliates programme on William Hill letterhead. A William Hill spokesperson said William Hill withdrawal from Ontario will follow that of Mr Green, which left in the spring.

It went on to urge affiliates to not send traffic from Ontario to its sites and instead focus on consumers in other Canadian provinces where the operator is remaining in place.

The Ontario regulated igaming market went live in April this year after a three-year process that saw its origins in the April 2019 provincial government’s announcement that it would be ending the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation’s monopoly on igaming.

William Hill’s parent company 888 Holdings, which recently completed its £1.95bn acquisition of William Hill’s international assets outside of the US from Caesars Entertainment, has held an Ontario licence since March 2022, and went live when the market launched on 4 April.

On that occasion, 888 CEO Itai Pazner commented on the strategic implications of the new market: “As a group, our focus is on strengthening our presence and offer to customers across key regulated markets. To that end, Ontario represents an attractive long-term growth opportunity for 888 and this is an extremely strategically important milestone for us.

“As we prepare for launch in the coming weeks, we are excited to bring all of 888’s leading products and games to new audiences across the province, providing our unique and differentiated experiences to players.”

The news comes in the context of Pazner's recent announcement in the group's Q2 earnings call that the company would be “rationalising” the business' portfolio of brands following a market review, ultimately cutting investment in brands that have lower potential in a market.

“This gives us an opportunity to put our resources behind the most successful brands with the highest potential for growth in each market rather than investing in all brands and all markets,” he said.

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