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More consolidation expected in sports betting sector

Sat, Oct 15, 10:13am by Staff Writer

It might be the busiest time of year for corporate bookmakers in Australia as the football seasons come to an end and the spring racing carnival hits it peak, but that hasn’t stopped industry figures talking up the prospect on consolidation of providers in Australia.

The sports betting industry has undergone a massive boom over the past seven or eight years, and is now said to be worth close to $24 billion dollars. In recent years, big international operators such as William Hill and Paddy Power have moved in on the Australian market.

William Hill made the biggest consolidation push when they acquired Centrebet, Sportingbet and Tom Waterhouse in one fell swoop, and re-launched them under the globally recognised William Hill brand, but there are suggestions that this could just be the tip of iceberg.

Paddy Power brought the local Sportsbet business, which is now is arguably the biggest brand in Australia, with its revenue reportedly surpassing that of Tabcorp”s sports betting division in the past 12 months.

The big players in the Australian market are now Tabcorp, Tatts’ UBET, Sportsbet, William Hill and CrownBet, while there are a host of smaller aspirant brands.

But industry insiders are expecting a further consolidation, with rumours that William Hill, which is in discussions over a global merger with online poker powerhouse Amaya, could abandon its Australian push.

William Hill was heavily invested in its live-in play betting strategy, but recent changes in regulation has outlawed that practice.

Few people are better placed to assess the future of the Australian sports betting industry than Matt Tripp, the former chief executive of Sportsbet, who sold that business on to Paddy Power before launching Crownbet, in partnership with James Packer’s Crown Resorts group.

He believes the number of ‘big’ players in the Australian market to dwindle in coming years.

“At some point something has got to give and consolidation will follow,’’ Tripp told The Australian “The others are not profitable — they will have to make a decision about whether they stay and grind it out here or look to be taken out.”

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