Packer’s CrownBet raises stakes in online betting ‘land grab’

Packer’s CrownBet raises stakes in online betting ‘land grab’ - 13th July 2015

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An aggressive “land grab” is under way in the $13 billion online sports and horse racing wagering space and James Packer’s CrownBet is doing its best to shake up the sector and muscle in on its large European rivals.

Matt Tripp, who heads up CrownBet, said it was a race to the bottom in homogenous offerings from competitors and his aim was to lift the level of attraction to punters.

He has an aggressive marketing plan that will soon be rolled out and he is not afraid of ruffling the feathers of his main rivals.

“Gaining marketshare is about producing a better offering through a better technology platform with better odds, better value and functionality. We are providing punters with the right tools so they don’t have to, or have a desire to, go anywhere else,” Mr Tripp told The Australian.

He said he was under no illusions about the big European players he was up against, outlining that outside of Tabcorp, which had the luxury of a retail monopoly and the benefits of owning Sky Racing, CrownBet was the only Australian online operator.

“It’s a bit of us against them — it’s the betting Ashes,” he said. “The European operators are all well established and have been around for decades and they are not going to take it lightly. They are looking over their shoulder.”

Sportsbet, which Mr Tripp started in 2006 was sold to European giant Paddy Power in 2011 and Tom Waterhouse sold his online business to rival UK-based player William Hill, as did Sportingbet and Centrebet.

Tabcorp’s chief operating officer of wagering, Craig Nugent, said his company was an early mover in the online space and was the first to adopt a digital application for wagering.

“We have an in-house digital team of around 70 people and in three years there is no doubt that will be doubled,” he said.

Tabcorp registers $1 billion more in annual digital sales than its nearest competitor and mobile bets, as a proportion of all digital, accounted for 63 per cent of sales. But despite the consumer shift to digital, which the company said it was seeing across all industries, 57 per cent of its bets continued to be placed in retail outlets.

Mr Nugent said the wagering market had been competitive but the company’s response to that was to exploit the combination of its of retail and digital assets.

“Marketshare does matter. A large part of the growth in recent years has been through sports betting. Racing is still the biggest part of the market but sport is growing each day,” he said.

CrownBet had a big win when it won the hotly contested tender late last year to become the AFL’s official wagering partner for the next five years and Mr Tripp now has the NRL in his sights.

“The NRL are probably a little gun-shy, there was a huge backlash around the Tom Waterhouse affect,” he said, referring to the public backlash to Mr Waterhouse’s aggressive start-up advertising campaign.

“That wounded them slightly but I’m chipping away at them. I’m part owner of the Melbourne Storm and James is part owner of South Sydney. We are contributing to the code and we’d like to think if they were going to choose a partner then they would certainly consider us.”

It was post his departure from Sportsbet that Mr Tripp started to consider his next move and with a firm belief the online space was going to significantly grow he acquired a small, troubled business, BetEasy, and built a new technology platform for it and then convinced Packer to partner with him.

“Our technology platform is the first of its kind. It is cloud-based, which means we don’t require a room full of servers like a lot of our competitors and we can turn the bandwidth up and down on our technology in line with the market.

“We have the capacity to scale and grow the business, not just nationally but globally.

“We will continue to evolve and what you see now of CrownBet will be vastly different in 12 months. We are about to roll out some stuff that no one else is doing in the market and we’ll make some noise about that.”

(The Australian)