CrownBet, the digital arm of James Packer’s Crown Resorts, this week announced a landmark partnership with ClubsNSW.
CrownBet will provide online gambling services across the organisation’s 1,200 venues via designated app that will enable club members to place bets online.
The deal will also witness the end of Tabcorp’s monopoly on in-venue betting in New South Wales, while increasing Crown’s presence in the state beyond its core base in Victoria.
For ClubsNSW, which has traditionally been against casinos and their endless pokies, which, it has argued, eat into its market share, it’s a question of “if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em”, or, perhaps, of dragging itself into the 21st century.
For Tabcorp, there’s a sense that its turf has been invaded. The bookmaking giant has a presence in many clubs in New South Wales, where it offers TAB and keno, and it may be justified in arguing that the deal is against the spirit of its monopoly on retail-betting in the state.
Bet Online, Withdraw Cash in Venue
But ClubsNSW chief executive Anthony Ball did not mince his words when he explained the thinking behind the move, which came, he said, after a thorough review of the organisation’s wagering options. And it didn’t make easy listening for Tabcorp.
“More than 90 per cent of clubs have been losing money on their TAB facilities in recent years as more and more people switch to online wagering,” he said. “Our arrangement with CrownBet will ensure all NSW clubs get their fair share from digital bets and will help ensure the industry’s long-term viability. Small and regional clubs will be the biggest winners.”
The deal will provide incentives for clubs to sign up members as well as allowing them to receive commission on bets placed. CrownBet will also integrate its CrownBet Rewards with local club loyalty programs, letting members earn points that can be redeemed at a venue’s restaurants and bars.
CrownBet also has the option to install cash-out machines, which will let punters to bet online and immediately withdraw winnings account in-venue.
CrownBet CEO Matt Tripp said the aim was to change the “entire wagering experience for the benefit of members and guests.”
Tabcorp’s Next Move
The move is likely to redouble Tabcorp’s determination to achieve consolidation through its expected merger with Tatts, as the company faces increasing foreign and domestic competition.
The $11.3 billion merger would create a betting powerhouse, with revenues of over $5 billion, and more than a 90 per cent hegemony over the Australian pari-mutuel betting market.
A rival bid for Tatts, however, from a Macquarie-led consortium was rebuffed in December, and a new and improved offer is expected soon, raising the possibility of a full-scale bidding war.