CrownBet Buys William Hill’s Ailing Australian Gambling Business

CrownBet has won the race for the Australian business of William Hill, the British bookmaker confirmed today. CrownBet and a group of shareholders, including the sports betting operator’s founder Matthew Tripp, would buy William Hill’s Australian division at an enterprise value of A$300 million.

CrownBet itself is set to be acquired by Canadian gambling giant The Stars Group, which is known to be the parent company of online poker operator PokerStars and the BetStars sports betting brand.

Back in January, William Hill announced that it would review the operations of its Australian outpost after it has been underperforming for years. William Hill said back then that a sale was under consideration.

News emerged last month that four sports betting operators have made offers for the ailing business, with those being Ladbrokes, Paddy Power’s Sportsbet, CrownBet, and bet365. Casino News Daily reported last week that CrownBet and Sportsbet were shortlisted to be given access to due diligence.

CrownBet has eventually been selected as the preferred bidder. The deal is expected to be completed once William Hill obtains regulatory approval from the Foreign Investment Review Board and the Northern Territory Racing Commission, from which the operator holds a license to operate in Australia.

The British bookmaker entered Australia’s sports betting market in 2013 when it agreed to buy Sportingbet’s Australian and Spanish assets as well as the Centrebet and Tom Waterhouse brands in a deal valued at £459 million.

However, William Hill’s Australian business has underperformed for years. That combined with the credit betting ban introduced last year by Australia’s federal government and the plans for the implementation of a 15% point-of-consumption tax in several Australian states prompted the strategic review and the eventual sale of the division.

Local media also reported on Monday that William Hill has been rebuked by the Northern Territory Racing Commission for repeatedly failing to prevent an Australian problem gambler from betting. It emerged that the customer had made several attempts to self-exclude themselves from William Hill, but had failed to close their accounts and the operator had continued to send them promotional material encouraging them to gamble.

The Northern Territory’s gambling regulator had fined the British bookmaker A$18,326 due to the “serious nature” of its failings.

CrownBet and The Stars Group

CrownBet is itself in the middle of an acquisition deal that would see a group of investors backed by The Stars Group buy a 62% stake in the operator from its current owner Crown Resorts. The Stars Group has thus secured its entry into the lucrative Australian sports betting market.

According to Australian news outlets, CrownBet would be rebranded by the end of the year, as it is no longer backed by casino operator Crown Resorts.

The acquisition of William Hill’s Australian business by CrownBet will create Australia’s third largest sports betting operator behind Tabcorp, which recently completed an A$11-billion merger with its local rival Tatts, and Paddy Power’s Sportsbet.

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