Hills to enter Italy with casino launch

William Hill will enter the Italian egaming market later this month, having received a licence from regulator AAMS within the last two weeks.

William Hill will enter the Italian egaming market later this month, having received a licence from regulator AAMS within the last two weeks.

It will begin by offering casino only, although bingo, sportsbook and poker will closely follow under the William Hill brand.

A website, www.williamhill.it, is set to go live on midnight of 19 July, with the casino product made available at the end of the month, Jim Mullen, COO of William Hill Online, told eGaming Review. 

Mullen said that the AAMS licence is “...for all products, although we need to go through the final stages of the licensing process for bingo.”

He explained that the summer launch was one of the reasons for prioritising the casino product, which the company’s research has told them is popular in Italy at this time of year, explaining that “we looked at the Italian market for 16 or 17 months and have seen how many people have been playing certain games.

“Casino had specifications and testing schedules in place and was the most appropriate product for us to launch first. Now you can couple that with AAMS approval too,” he added.

The launch will be followed by a marketing drive, headed by a television advertising campaign in late July, with the heritage of the William Hill brand the focus, according to Mullen.

“The brand itself has a fantastic heritage and brings trust within the brand name,” he said. “When you see our campaign you will see we’re building on brand values of the William Hill brand, which is one of the most valuable tools we have within our business.

“For the Italian gaming and betting public we found the most important thing was trust, and the heritage that a British gaming company brings to it. There was already some knowledge of the name but it’s more about people’s response to the heritage of the British gaming and bookmaking industry,” he added.

It was largely because of this that the company chose to decline offers of local partnerships, a move which Mullen believes demonstrates the company is “there for the long-haul.”

William Hill terminated a retail-focused joint venture with Codere in 2008, with William Hill Online CEO Henry Birch later explaining to eGaming Review that "We could have made a business out of them but it would have required more investment and we felt it would be better placed elsewhere."

Sponsorship deals, of which there are currently “some on the table,” may follow, although this “will probably have to wait until we get feedback from customers.”

It is unclear whether other British bookmakers will enter under the first wave of licences, although Mullen suggests a reluctance to enter the Italian market would say a lot about any operator’s international outlook.

“If you’re not prepared to invest in a safe regulated market like Italy you probably need to rethink your international strategy - we’re focused on growing both in the UK and internationally,” he said.

Earlier this year AAMS signed a Memorandum of Understanding with French regulator ARJEL, paving the way for the two parties to work together on regulatory issues.

It is not clear how many other operators will join William Hill Online in launching this month, but eGaming Review will provide appropriate updates when news of further licences becomes available.

This is a reprint from egrmagazine.com To view the original, click here.

Sign-up for the OSGA Newsletter!

Every week get news and updates, exclusive offers and betting tips delivered right to you email inbox.