BUSINESS

Tatts Group doubles FY profit; Sportsbet triumphs in Betbox court case

TAGs: Australia, Betbox, Sportsbet, Tabcorp, Tatts Group

tatts-betbox-sportsbetAustralia’s second biggest betting outfit, Tatts Group Ltd., saw its annual profit more than double in the year ending June 30, reflecting the Melbourne-based operator’s first full year of having NSW Lotteries contributing to Tatts’ bottom line. Net profit was AU $275.4m, up sharply from $119.4m the previous year. (Last year included a $140m impairment on Tatt’s European gaming operation Talarius.) Revenue rose 11.3% to $3.67b. Underlying profit in 2011 was $279.5m, off 1% from 2010.

In a statement, Tatts called 2011 a year of transition, with “the integration of NSW Lotteries, the re-positioning of TattsBet and Talarius, and the last steps along the way to the eventual closure of Tatts Pokies … all contributing toward a new baseline for Tatts Group businesses.” Feeling bullish, CEO Dick McIlwain claims the company is also “enjoying quite a positive start” to 2012.

A recent Federal Court decision in Australia has left Sportsbet cheering and Tabcorp crying foul. Sportsbet and the Eureka Hotel in the state of Victoria had challenged a provision of the Gambling Regulation Act 2003 (Vic) that prohibited Sportsbet from operating its Betbox online betting kiosks in the state. Opposing Sportsbet in the case was the Victorian Commission for Gambling Regulation (VCGR), the State of Victoria and Tabcorp, which had paid $410m to hold (it thought) the exclusive retail wagering license in Victoria.

Betbox is a touchscreen computer that punters use to remotely connect to the Sportsbet website, which is licensed in Australia’s Northern Territory. As punters can’t feed cash into the machine, it apparently does not technically qualify as a ‘retail’ betting outlet. Therefore, the Federal Court found that Victoria’s law was in breach of section 92 of the Constitution by imposing a discriminatory, protectionist burden, and thus preventing free trade and commerce between the State and Territories of Australia. Sportsbet is hereby free to install Betboxes in pubs and clubs across Victoria.

Tabcorp CEO David Attenborough will undoubtedly appeal the Federal Court decision, but according to Aussie lawyer Clayton Utz, Sportsbet is also considering challenging similar betting kiosk bans in New South Wales. And round we go…

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