British bookmaker William Hill PLC mentioned it has obtained takeover proposals from Caesars Entertainment Inc. and Apollo Administration Worldwide LLP, the most recent signal of world curiosity within the rising U.S. sports-gambling market.

Sports activities betting within the U.S. was booming earlier than the pandemic, and the monthslong shutdown of casinos for social distancing this yr underscored the worth of on-line sports activities wagering for main playing operators. In current months, betting corporations have spun off digital arms and made huge investments into on-line playing, activity that has been accelerated by the influence of the pandemic on retail income, based on analysts.

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William Hill, a London-listed firm that has develop into a significant participant within the U.S., mentioned Friday that talks with the 2 potential suitors have been ongoing however cautioned there was no certainty of a deal. It didn’t disclose the phrases of the proposals. Caesars and Apollo each declined to remark.

U.S. business slot-machine income this yr by the tip of July was $9.24 billion, down practically 45% in contrast with the identical time final yr, whereas on line casino income from desk video games fell 46% to $2.6 billion, based on the American Gaming Affiliation, an trade commerce group. In the meantime, sports-betting revenue was up practically 19% at $394 million, with extra states having legalized the trade. On-line on line casino income practically tripled for the interval, to $778 million.

Twenty-two states and the District of Columbia have legalized sports activities wagering since a 2018 U.S. Supreme Courtroom ruling paved the best way for states outdoors Nevada to permit sports activities betting. In the meantime, a handful of states have legalized on-line on line casino playing. Analysts anticipate the roster of states welcoming sports activities and on-line playing to develop in coming years, notably as state lawmakers look to fill funds gaps brought on by the pandemic-induced financial downturn.

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William Hill shares rose greater than 40% Friday, valuing the corporate at over £3 billion, equal to $3.82 billion. Below U.Okay. takeover guidelines, Caesars and Apollo now have till Oct. 23 to both make a suggestion for William Hill or stroll away. Bloomberg earlier reported the talks with Apollo.

William Hill has been hit laborious this yr by the coronavirus pandemic, prompting it to completely shut greater than 100 of its U.Okay.-based shops, which have been already beneath strain from elevated regulation and the shift to betting on-line.

Nonetheless, one huge progress space for the corporate lately has been the U.S., the place it has sought to faucet the burgeoning sports-betting market. William Hill US accounted for 7% of group income within the first six months of the yr.

The U.S. on-line on line casino and sports-betting market is anticipated to develop to $18 billion in income by 2025, with the highest three gamers in market share projected to be Flutter Leisure PLC at 28%, DraftKings Inc. at 20% and Caesars at 12%, based on a Macquarie Analysis. Flutter Leisure has the betting manufacturers FoxBet and FanDuel.

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William Hill already has a partnership with Caesars. Earlier this month, the U.Okay. firm mentioned Caesars had signed a cope with ESPN that may see its odds built-in into ESPN’s web site and Fantasy app in states the place sports activities betting is authorized. The deal adopted an analogous settlement introduced in February between William Hill and ViacomCBS Inc.’s CBS Sports activities that enabled the playing firm to hunt new prospects among the many media large’s viewers.

“While you put all these items collectively—good model, good media tie-in, good expertise—I believe you would find yourself with double-digit market share,” mentioned Chad Beynon, Macquarie analyst.

DraftKings, a digital-focused playing firm, has a market capitalization of practically $18 billion after going public earlier this yr.

Now, playing operators are contemplating the right way to unlock the worth of their very own digital operations from the pressures of their retail enterprise and the right way to make these operations giant sufficient to be aggressive, mentioned Chris Grove, an analyst with Eilers & Krejcik Gaming.

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“The markets are sending a really clear sign proper now,” Mr. Grove mentioned. “Carry us an asset that has the chance to be a class chief, if not a class winner, within the authorized U.S. on-line betting market, and we’re going to reward you.”

Write to Katherine Sayre at katherine.sayre@wsj.com and Ian Walker at ian.walker@wsj.com



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