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Online Sportsbooks in Australia Competing for the AFL Sponsorship Deal

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Industry experts predict a shake-up of AFL’s gambling partnerships, as officials are considering a new approach.

The exclusive betting sponsorship agreement between Tabcorp and the Australian Football League (AFL) ends this year and rumor has it officials are looking for a better deal. Matt Tripp’s rebranded Beteasy and William Hill Australia, with its new chief executive officer Tom Waterhouse are said to be among the top candidates for the seven-figure contract.

After selling his old internet betting site, Tripp has returned to corporate bookmaking by buying and rebranding an online sportsbooks in Australia. Now he could land a new deal with the AFL.

“I am told the AFL is looking to restructure [the partnership] whereby it won’t be inclusive to one particular betting operator. There will be several allowed to put their hand up and be part of that mix. I will certainly be one of them that will be putting my hand up. Providing the commercial terms are reasonable, I will throw my hat in the ring for sure,” he announced.

Back in business

Industry experts believe these three companies have the best chances of landing the AFL sponsorship deal:

• Beteasy
• William Hill Australia
• Tabcorp

Tripp, son of bookmaker Alan Tripp, is definitely a worthy competitor even to betting giant William Hill. The businessman has a flair for wagering and has made millions of dollars so far.

In 2005, Tripp bought Sportsbet for $250,000. A few years later he was selling it to Irish betting giant Paddy Power, who ended up paying $338 million in total. Tripp quit the business last April, as the deal included a non-compete clause which expired this year.

With only a fraction of the money he made from selling Sportsbet, he purchased a new wagering site called Betezy earlier this year. The company was rebranded as “Beteasy” and is targeted at punters who are not satisfied with the services offered by other major bookmakers operating on the Australian market.

The new company has a strong 100,000-customer base and a turnover of AUD $250 million in the last financial year. Even though the Australian market is very competitive, Tripp said his website has great potential for growth.

Announcing his comeback, the businessman argued: “I think we have lost a bit of the glamour of what it is to be Australian and enjoy a bet. If you back a winner or have more than two or three hundred (dollars) on one and get on a bit of a roll, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to get on. I want to bring a bit of the romance back into betting, I guess you’d call it.”

More than just a sponsorship contract

Tabcorp is one of the largest gambling companies licensed under Australian gambling laws, but its four-year-long exclusive deal with the AFL is about to expire. Chief operating officer Craig Nugent said he was keen to extend the partnership, but rumor has it officials are considering going a different way.

“TAB has been an AFL partner since 2006 and, as Australia’s most trusted wagering brand, we’ve been a good partner for the AFL. On that basis we’ll be looking at extending the partnership for 2015 and beyond,” Nugent said.

Industry experts say there is more at stake than simply the honor of being the AFL’s official betting partner. The current deal offers Tabcorp “last rights” to all media deals secured by the league, which means the wagering company has the last say in all agreements where TV stations, radio networks and newspapers are looking for betting partners.

The current contract includes finals and the Brownlow Medal. The company recently signed a deal to also stream live matches on its website, which can also be accessed from smart phones and tablets.

Despite rumors that other wagering companies might take over, AFL spokesman James Tonkin said: “Tabcorp has been a valued long-term partner of the AFL and we are commencing renewal discussions with them.”

According to integrity protocols, other licensed bookmakers have to report suspicious transactions to the AFL. The league is also working with betting companies to discuss and monitor wagering trends and patterns. The AFL checks records regularly, to make sure players and league officials do not place bets on matches. The league also has the right to veto certain bet types, if it considers that the integrity of the game is threatened.

“The AFL is the biggest sports betting market at the moment outside, obviously, of the three racing codes,” Tripp said. “It is critical to our business. It is something that we are really interested in, particularly being an effective start-up. We would need something like an injection of AFL punters and who better to run with than a network like Seven or Fox or whoever it may be, in order to make that happen.”

Australian bookmakers are currently making more than $350 million a year from football bets, so whoever lands the partnership with AFL will be the next big winner.

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