NSW to take ‘zero tolerance approach’ on pub betting advertising from December

Entain to compete with Tabcorp in NSW hotel sector via advertising deal

Entain has secured an advertising and sponsorship partnership between its Australia-facing brand and the New South Wales hotel network. 

Signed between Entain Australia and the Australian Hotels Association New South Wales (AHA NSW), the deal enables the FTSE100 international gambling group to promote the Ladbrokes and Neds digital betting brands in hotels and pubs.

This is not the first agreement of its kind in Australia, nor indeed New South Wales, as Entain’s competitor Tabcorp also maintains an exclusive arrangement with the state’s hospitality sector, with over 1,000 of its PubTAB terminals integrated across various venues.

John Whelan, CEO of AHA NSW, stated that the reasoning behind the partnership was ‘simple’, as it will ‘finally give NSW hotels competition and choice’.

“For decades now, many NSW hotels have operated PubTABs for Tabcorp at a significant loss – primarily due to high Sky Channel and EBT (betting terminal) fees,” he commented. “In country NSW it’s even worse, with the majority of country pubs currently running their PubTAB at a loss.”

Whelan underscored, however, that AHA NSW would continue to support the Tabcorp partnership, noting that pubs in the state generate ‘about half the current PubTAB turnover’.

He also asserted that the arrangement will continue due to the importance of retail wagering in the association’s venues. Additionally, the contract specifically states that Entain will not be able to integrate its own wagering platforms into NSW hotels. 

Instead, punters will continue to wager using Tabcorp’s PubTAB machines, but will see visible advertising for the Neds and Ladbrokes online brands, which they can use via their phones.

Further caveats prohibit Entain from paying commission from any bets placed on its apps by pub and hotel patrons, having staff operate a portable ipad, phone wagering terminals or take wagers on behalf of the company, advertising to the general public on the exterior of the hotel, and ‘anything else which may offend Tabcorp’s retail exclusivity in NSW’.

“Our patrons are already exposed to advertising from corporate bookmakers on our pub TV screens, on the radio, in newspapers and on their phones,” Whelan continued.

“Increasingly people are choosing to bet on the races or the footy on their phones – not in the traditional retail environment. Today, most people betting on their phone in a NSW pub are placing a bet with Ladbrokes, Neds or another corporate bookmaker.”

The agreement is the latest expansion plan enacted by Entain Australia as it seeks to broaden its brand visibility and better compete against other established Australian firms. 

Notably, a local media report in July quoted Entain Australia CEO Dean Shannon as stating that the firm intends to become a ‘‘fully fledged media business”, planning to launch four online horse and greyhound racing channels producing both written and video content.

This would bring Entain into heavier competition with Tabcorp, which operates the Sky Racing media business, a horse racing media rights distributor, which signed an agreement with Greyhound Racing Victoria (GRV) shortly before The Sydney Morning Herald’s report

Entain and Tabcorp have a history of competition, having gone up against each other in the bidding contest for the WA Tab bookmaker back in February, whilst in 2021 the former attempted to buy its rival’s TAB wagering unit for AUS $3bn (€2bn).

On the AHA NSW deal, Shannon remarked: “We applaud AHA NSW for their vision in agreeing to work with us to bring this partnership to life. While there is still value in more traditional cash retail wagering, there is a highly engaged audience of punters who like to go down to their local for a bet with their mates, and how they do that has evolved.

“This partnership recognises that evolution and is about offering choice for the benefit of AHA NSW members and their patrons. There is no reason why traditional cash wagering can’t coexist in a hotel, alongside an advertising sponsorship arrangement with Entain that promotes the digital offering of one of our leading brands.

“Entain recognises the opportunity for us to connect and communicate with the audience inside hotels is valuable and we intend to support the operators of those venues, just as we would any other advertising channel.”

Both Shannon and Whelan added that support for the NSW racing scene – thoroughbred,harness and greyhound – was another goal of the partnership, 

Whelan outlined that there are ‘currently around 600 NSW pubs without Sky Channel or TAB wagering’, sharing his view that the Entain deal will make it more affordable for venues to promote all three codes of racing.

Shannon added: “Our business is a proud Australian-based organisation that employs more than 750 people across our offices in Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne and Darwin. Over the next year, we expect to return more than $500m in taxes, fees and sponsorships to government and the racing industry nationally.

“We have consistently demonstrated our commitment to going above and beyond in our support of racing through our long-term sponsorship of racing clubs in NSW, Victoria, Tasmania and the NT. 

“Off the back of our investment in NSW hotels, you will see further investment from Entain directly into the racing ecosystem in NSW over the next 12 months.”

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