Tatts Group profit falls after pokies loss; Betfred eyes Australia online license

betfred-tatts-groupAustralian lottery and betting outfit Tatts Group recorded a profit of AU $128.3m (US $132.4m) in the first half of its fiscal year. That’s 23.1% off the comparable period a year earlier, reflecting the end of the lucrative pokie machine duopoly Tatts and rival operator Tabcorp held in the state of Victoria until this past August. Tatts filed a compensation claim against Victoria shortly thereafter, seeking between $490.5m and $598m for the damage sustained via the loss of its pokie prize. For the six months ending Dec. 31, group revenues fell 14% to $1.71b, although if you discount the effect of the pokie loss (which previously contributed 32% of Tatts revenues), revenue rose 16%, earnings rose 24% and profit rose 25.8%.

Tatts’ lotteries division had a good year, with revenues rising 20% to $1.1b on the strength of what newly installed CEO Robbie Cooke called “an unusual and sustained run of jackpots” (21 mega-pots over $15m, compared to nine in the same period last year). TattsBet wagering revenues rose 7% to $344.9m thanks to improved win rates and the full integration of Tote Tasmania, the acquisition of which Tatts completed in March 2012. Online lottery revenues grew 52%, accounting for 8% of total lotto sales. Online bets rose 22%, representing 19% of total wagers. Cooke believes there were a lot of online options the company had yet to take advantage of, but played coy on specifics, saying “we’re not going to flag those to the market at this point in time.”

Another operator smelling online opportunities in Australia is Fred Done’s Betfred. The UK operator is pursuing an online license in Australia’s Northern Territory, keen to cash in on a sports betting market that is tipped for major growth over the next couple years. Betfred online managing director Chris Sheffield told GamblingCompliance the company had spent the past six months mapping out strategies, but hadn’t yet decided whether to go in under its own banner like Bet365 or Betfair, or to buy into the market à la William Hill’s acquisition of Sportingbet, Paddy Power’s acquisition of Sportsbet or Unibet’s acquisition of BetChoice. Despite having only received its Northern Territory license in 2012, Bet365 has already become Australia’s fourth-most visited gambling site. Local behemoth Tabcorp operates the nation’s top betting site, followed by Sportingbet/Centrebet and Sportsbet.