The buzz that Crown Resort’s James Packer and BetEasy’s Matthew Trip will join forces to build a sportsbook company in Australia’s flourishing sportsbetting business turned out to be true. This week, the Australian casino magnate released a statement confirming the merger agreement between Crown’s wholly owned Betfair Australia business and Tripp’s startup betting company BetEasy, to create a new sports betting company.
Mr. Packer’s statement conveyed his recognition of Matthew Tripp and his team’s proven expertise and ability in building and operating an excellent sports wagering business. The statement released last Tuesday expressed the Australian billionaire’s vision of Crown’s new foray, as one that will help build a homegrown Australian sportsbook business that can compete strongly with the large foreign corporate bookmakers currently dominating Australia’s AU$13 billion online gambling market.
Crown’s first venture into the online gambling business is the 50-50 partnership deal with UK Betfair, which led to the formation of the Betfair Australia division in 2004. However, the fixed odds betting exchange model failed to take off as a lucrative betting business in the Australian market, as wagering operations had resulted to continuing losses. In August of this year, Crown bought UK Betfair’s remaining share for AU$10 million, making the betting exchange a wholly owned business of an Australian company.
Mr. Tripp on the other hand, was the erstwhile founder of the highly successful Australian sports book Sportsbet, which he sold in 2011 to Irish bookmaker Paddy Power; the sale conditions included a non-compete clause. After the non-compete condition ended last March 2014, Mr. Tripp re-entered Australia’s online sports wagering market by acquiring the assets of BetEzy, another beleaguered local sportsbook operator, struggling to survive against the highly competitive sports betting operations established by foreign bookmakers.
Mr. Tripp invested around AU$10 million on the BetEzy acquisition, renamed the sports book company as BetEasy and started another sportsbetting business that now boasts of having 110,000 registered members as customer base. His latest feat is the Australian Football League (AFL) sponsorship deal, which the BetEasy company won by outbidding betting giants in the likes of Sportsbet, Tabcorp Holdings and William Hill Australia. The 5-year AU$50 million sponsorship will give BetEasy considerable exposure as AFL’s official betting partner, as well as other advertising privileges and separate sponsorship negotiation rights.
The confirmed new joint venture constitutes 67 percent ownership for Crown and 33 percent for BetEasy with both companies contributing to the working capital, albeit reports have it that no actual money is involved as part of the agreement. There is a likely possibility that the new company will use the recently acquired Crown trademark “Crown Bet,” as it was mentioned that for now, sports betting products would continue to carry the BetEasy brand while the betting exchange offers will remain under the Betfair brand. Mr. Matthew Tripp will be at the helm of the joint venture and his entire 150 BetEasy staff will be absorbed by the new sports wagering business.
As Mr. Packer stated, the deal will bring on “significant benefits and opportunities” to both existing and would-be customers,” since part of the joint venture agreement includes giving BetEasy access to the more than two 2 million customers listed in the Crown Signature Club database.