Shares of Caesars Entertainment (NASDAQ:CZR) have jumped more than 9% today, rising to more than $54 per share in afternoon trading after the casino and entertainment company inked a digital sportsbook deal with Walt Disney (NYSE:DIS) network ESPN. Caesars already gained 47.5% during August, following its merger with Eldorado Resorts and the reopening of casinos as COVID-19 declined from its peak.
According to a release from Caesars, ESPN's platforms will integrate both Caesars' digital presence and the Caesars Sportsbook operated by its "exclusive sports betting operator," William Hill (OTC:WIMHY). Targeted links to the sportsbook will now appear on the website and mobile app of ESPN.com, allowing easy access to betting in areas where online wagering is legal.
William Hill CEO Ulrik Bengtsson said the new partnership will electrify the company's growth in the United States, with benefits accruing back to Caesars, too, as "tens of millions of fans will now have a direct link to our sports betting apps and odds." William Hill's sportsbook is already approved for use in Iowa, Nevada, and New Jersey, and 10 additional states are currently carrying out regulatory reviews.
Caesars cemented its partnership with William Hill, the U.S. branch of which it already held an approximate 20% stake in due to its merger with Eldorado, earlier this month. Wolfe Research analyst Jared Shojaian put the value of William Hill's and Caesars' internet operations at $7 billion, according to Seeking Alpha. Following the announcement of the ESPN pact, Goldman Sachs gave Caesars Entertainment a $56 price target and a hold rating.