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Parent of Lucky’s bought out

British bookmaker William Hill Plc is acquiring its third Nevada sports book operation in less than a month, agreeing to buy the company that operates Lucky’s race and sports books for $15.7 million.

The transaction for Brandy-
wine Bookmaking, which is subject to approval of Nevada gaming regulators, is expected to be announced to day.

Brandywine is privately owned and was licensed by state gaming authorities in June 2008.

The company employs 90 people and operates 16 sports books in Nevada under the Lucky’s brand, including the off-Strip Terrible’s, the Plaza and Fitzgeralds downtown and three Primm casinos. The company recently signed a deal to operate the sports book at the Riviera.

Brandywine also operates a sports book in St. Kitts in the Caribbean.

Brandywine is the oddsmaker for the Delaware State Sports Lottery, which it operates in partnership with Scientific Games, offering football parlay cards at the state’s three racetrack casinos.

In April, William Hill agreed to acquire American Wagering, operators of the 72-location Leroy’s, for $18 million, and the Cal Neva Sportsbook Division for $21 million.

In 2010, Brandywine had revenues of $7.7 million. William Hill is acquiring the company for $14.25 million in cash before adjustments for working capital and is providing a $1.4 million convertible loan.

“We did a lot of homework on Nevada and we set our sights on these three companies,” William Hill Chief Executive Ralph Topping said. “We wanted to have the size and scale and this is a great opportunity to establish ourselves in Nevada.”

William Hill operates 2,359 land-based sports betting and gaming operations in the United Kingdom, which represents about 25 percent on the market. The company, which was established in 1934 and has been listed on the London Stock Exchange since 2002, also owns 71 percent of William Hill Online, an online betting and gaming business.

Topping said he expects the current management of Leroy’s, Cal Neva and Lucky’s to remain in place after the transactions close.

“These three leading businesses presents a good opportunity for William Hill to grow a leadership position in the US sports-betting industry,” Topping said. “We will have good people in place who have skills that are very complimentary to each other.”

Brandywine CEO Joe Asher said the timing for selling the 3-year-old company made strategic sense with William Hill buying his two largest competitors, Leroy’s and Cal Neva. He said William Hill could help grow sports wagering across the United States.

“I feel good about the strategic and cultural fit between our organizations and look forward to working with the William Hill team,” Asher said. “It also will be nice to be on the same team with Vic Salerno and Jeff Siri and their colleagues at American Wagering and Cal Neva.”

Topping said William Hill is filing paperwork for licensing with Nevada gaming regulators for the transactions. The sales could close in 2012, once licensing is completed.

Contact reporter Howard Stutz at hstutz@reviewjournal.com or 702-477-3871. Follow him on Twitter @howardstutz

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