William Hill sells Australia unit to CrownBet

Business News

CrownBet has emerged as the winner in a tight contest to snap up the Australian arm of international wagering giant William Hill in a $300 million deal.

CrownBet and rival internet bookmaker Sportsbet were the two finalists in the process to buy the Tom Waterhouse-led outpost of William Hill Australia, after its London-listed parent company put the business up for sale earlier this year.

An announcement was made to the London stock exchange on Tuesday night.

The deal is being hailed a major win for CrownBet and its well-known chief executive, Matt Tripp.

“We made no secret about our plans to grow through the acquisition, and we’re pleased to have prevailed here against stiff competition,” Mr Tripp said It is expected the acquisition will double CrownBet’s market share and cement its position as the third-largest provider in Australia’s rapidly growing online sports-betting market, after the $11 billion industry giant Tabcorp and rival corporate bookmaker Sportsbet.

William Hill, which has strong customer bases in non-AFL states Queensland and New South Wales, is believed to complement CrownBet’s, which is strongest in Victoria.

The William Hill sale is likely to be the first in what insiders predict will be a wave of consolidation among Australia’s online wagering companies, who will struggle to absorb new state-based betting taxes and will have to compete against the industry powerhouse created by the merger of the nation’s two biggest gambling companies, Tabcorp and Tatts.

CrownBet’s prominence is also soon to benefit from a recent deal for exclusive access to Tabcorp’s Sky Racing vision, set to be available to CrownBet customers to stream from next month.

Mr Tripp said CrownBet had built a “world-class” wagering offering that would be enhanced by the exclusive streaming of the three racing codes.

“The battle will continue to be fought on this sort of innovation and differentiation,” he said, “but today is a momentum shift for CrownBet and the marketplace.”