William Hill has raised approximately £224m in funds after launching a new ordinary share placement for 19.99 per cent of its existing share capital.

A total of 169,111,584 new ordinary shares have been placed with institutional investors by Barclays Bank and Citigroup Global Markets at the placing price. Citi and Barclays are acting as Joint Global Coordinators and Joint Bookrunners in respect of the placing.

William Hill said the placing will give it the “flexibility to support” to accelerate its roll-out strategy as opportunities emerge, particularly in the US.

Although many casinos remained closed, William Hill has operated drive-through sportsbooks in Nevada, a state where customers must sign up in person to use the William Hill app. It said this initiative proved popular and generated ‘considerable re-engagement’ online.

Pending the green light from the New Jersey Department of Gaming Enforcement, the operator also revealed that it remains on track to launch online gaming in the Garden State.

CEO Ulrik Bengtsson was upbeat about the company’s performance over the past six weeks: “The return of sporting events has driven a strong recovery in our online volumes,” he said. “Our UK Online business is in a better place than ever and our international business is displaying solid growth.

“In the US we have used this period of lockdown wisely to move our product forward and we are now in a strong position to capitalise on the US growth opportunity that lies ahead.”

William Hill said that the US represents a large and profitable market opportunity, with an estimated market size of c.$7.5bn by 2025, and the firm has already achieved material scale with a 24 per cent national market share, over half of which is digital.

It added: “Through the Eldorado and CBS commercial tie ups we have secured our position as a major operator as the market continues to open. We look forward to the completion of the acquisition of Caesars by Eldorado and preparations are well underway to bring the operation of the existing Caesars sports books into the William Hill network.”

The funds that have been raised will support the bookmaker in accelerating its digital momentum, after it anticipates a drop in its retail footprint.

Bengtsson continued: “We also have significant experience in running our own sports trading platform, giving us a strong understanding of customer behaviour, acquisition costs and margins. Our history in Nevada of 24 per cent CAGR over the last eight years with an operating margin of more than 30 per cent in 2019 is testament to our expertise.

“We expect the number of states licencing sports betting in the US to increase over the next 12-18 months. We will continue to build on our national leadership position with the further roll out of our new proprietary platform, in which we continued investment during this time, and which now offers a compelling user experience with efficient adaptation to the unique requirements of each new state, enabling faster and lower cost market entry. These enhanced technology solutions will provide the US business with the strongest foundations for continued success.

“To do this, we will increase investment behind product, technology, new state start-ups and marketing. This is a crucial and exciting phase for us in the US, and the proceeds from the Placing will give us the flexibility to support and accelerate our roll-out strategy as opportunities emerge.”