SBC News Home crunch triggers FTSE bookmakers' Australian arms race

Home crunch triggers FTSE bookmakers’ Australian arms race

FTSE bookmaker William Hill Plc has lit-up the Australian gambling market, by confirming that it has entered ‘in-depth discussions’ with Crown Resorts to acquire its controlling 62% stake in online betting subsidiary Crownbet.

The cumbersome merger of Tabcorp-Tatts has dominated the Australian betting industry’s agenda and context in 2017, however, seeking to expand its international assets William Hill may have moved to trigger an ‘Australian arms race’, as FTSE betting giants are pressured to deliver international growth.

Closing on Friday, UK news sources revealed that FTSE competitor Paddy Power Betfair (PPB), was also in discussion with James Packer’s Crown Resorts with regards to acquiring Crownbet, an asset deemed ‘non-core’ by Packer who has chosen to focus on Crown Resort’s new Australian casino developments.

Moving forward, PPB governance desires to support its ‘fast-growth’ Sportsbet Australia division, which reported a 29% revenue uplift during Q3 2017, becoming Australia’s leading online wagering destination.

Outgoing PPB Chief Executive Breon Corcoran has labelled Sportsbet Australia, as the betting group’s ‘shining star’ for international development and growth a key corporate objective for inbound PPB leader Peter Jackson (former WorldPay CEO).

Facing tougher UK home market prospects, with significant incoming regulatory change, stricter advertising standards/practices, increasing costs, and all-around domestic GDP and Sterling forecasts downgraded (Brexit impacts). FTSE betting governances are being pressured by investors to deliver true international enterprises, making Plc bookmakers less reliant on home comforts.

Ladbrokes Coral which is currently ‘reviewing all strategic options’ with regards to its corporate future, has fresh eyes on the Australian betting market, having appointed Jason Scott as new Ladbrokes Australia CEO this August.

The lucrative Australian betting market, will not only become a ‘FTSE bookmaker playground’. As last week, the governance of Stockholm-listed European online gambling firm Kindred Group Plc revealed that it would significantly increase its marketing spend and coverage within Australia.

Henrik Tjarnstrom, Kindred Group CEO stated that his company would now seek to expand its Australian digital services, as the established multi-market operator aims to enhance group revenue channels by creating lucrative assets ’beyond Europe’.

Though Tabcorp governance, may have finally gained the ACT merger approval to combine its enterprise with Tatts, Australian analysts’ are all in agreement that the legacy operator faces its biggest threat from digitally shrewd and well-funded European players.

Nevertheless, although Australia may appear a golden destination for FTSE players, industry stakeholders have been warned that regulatory concerns are growing with regards to betting exposure, much like home these concerns have become a political point of contention and conflict.

The increased international attention is welcomed by industry investors and analysts seeking new ground. However, as market activity heats up, it is unlikely that all European players will survive the rugged and brutal reality of Australia’s betting terrain.

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