Caesars Coming To Michigan With Brand Cache, Fresh Start — And Possibly Poker

Written By Matt Schoch on May 5, 2021

Who was that William Hill guy, anyway? Michigan online bettors may never fully know with a rebrand to Caesars in the offing.

The United Kingdom brand’s short time among in MI will soon be ending, Caesars CEO Tom Reeg said on Tuesday’s quarterly earnings call.

Caesars recently acquired William Hill and will rebrand the online products under its own name, with hopes of having a competitive brand by this football season.

That means a more familiar American brand is on its way to Michigan soon.

William Hill not gaining foothold in MI

Despite being one of the world’s biggest gambling brands, William Hill Sportsbook hasn’t taken off here in Michigan.

Since the Jan. 22 launch of MI online sports betting and internet gaming, William Hill had taken $17.2 million in online sports bets and earned $1.1 million in online casino revenue through March.

The sports betting handle makes for a 2.2% market share, good for sixth place out of 12 existing brands. WH’s online casino revenue is 11th out of 11 brands that were live by the end of March.

The Caesars Casino name could help in that regard.

William Hill retail sportsbook currently closed

William Hill has Michigan market access through a deal with the Grand Traverse Bay Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians.

The tribe’s casinos, Turtle Creek and Leelanau Sands near Traverse City, have their sports betting operations branded with William Hill.

The Turtle Creek sportsbook, Onyx Sports Book by William Hill, is temporarily closed because of “staffing shortages.” Sports betting is still available at both casinos through kiosks, however.

A Caesars rebrand will come to the casinos. But there’s no timetable for that transition yet, PlayMichigan has learned.

Caesars could bring WSOP.com poker to Michigan

In addition to the name recognition boost, a William Hill rebrand to Caesars could bring an online poker brand such as WSOP.com to the MI market, which currently has just BetMGM Poker and PokerStars MI in play.

WSOP offers qualifiers to the World Series of Poker tournaments. They also sport cash games, Blast poker and other tournaments. 888 Poker software powers WSOP.com and also has its own separate brand in New Jersey.

Caesars will be spending this fall. Reeg added that William Hill spent last football season “fighting with an arm behind their back.”

As far as sports betting, Reeg declined to give a market share goal and projected marketing spend.

“I’m not going to put a stake in the ground and say we’re going to have this much defensible market share by this date,” Reeg said. “We are very, very early in this process. We’ve got a great hand to play, and I have tremendous confidence in our ability to operate and be a leader (in the US), and that’s what we’re setting out to do.”

Caesars purchased William Hill for $3.7 billion.

Since the deal, former William Hill CEO Joe Asher has stepped away from the business for the time being.

Photo by Wayne Parry/AP file
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Matt Schoch

A Michigan native, Matt has worked at newspapers in Michigan, Missouri and the Virgin Islands. A versatile sports reporter, Matt has covered sailing on the Great Lakes, cricket in the Caribbean, high school and pro playoffs, and the Olympics in Rio. He's also the host of the Locked On Pistons Podcast and producer of a documentary on Emoni Bates. A former blackjack dealer, Matt has studied the industry from all sides.

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