BUSINESS

Tom Waterhouse may not be able to retire just yet; basketball rules New Zealand

TAGs: Australia, basketball, bestoddscomau, Betfred, new zealand tab, odds comparison websites, Tom Waterhouse

tom-waterhouse-betfred-new-zealand-tabUK bookies Betfred stopped accepting customer signups from Australia on Tuesday to prepare for life under the watchful gaze of its soon-to-be regulator in Australia’s Northern Territory. Betfred applied for an NT online license earlier this year, and welcomed aboard former Centrebet marketing director Luke Brill as managing director for Australia on July 1.

When it eventually launches, Betfred’s Australian-facing site will want to get on BestOdds.com.au, a new odds-comparison site that aims to provide Aussie punters with the means to weigh odds in 395 markets across 21 sports from 11 different bookies with price changes updated within 1-2 seconds. The mobile-friendly product comes courtesy of former Microsoft developer Luc Pettett, who said he wanted to offer punters a better way of making an informed decision rather than “just betting with whoever has the best commercial on TV.”

HOW GREEN WAS TOM’S VALLEY?
Speaking of commercials, former TV fixture Tom Waterhouse may not be “laughing all the way to the bank” following the much publicized A$110m sale of his online betting site to UK bookies William Hill. At the very least, Waterhouse is probably not laughing as loud as his many and varied critics might suggest. Crikey’s Adam Schwab took it upon himself to crunch the numbers behind the sale of TomWaterhouse.com, and concluded that while Tom’s personal stake will likely be in the mid-six-figures, it isn’t likely to top that unless those $70m in potential earnouts come due – which appears unlikely.

As a (for the moment) private company, TomWaterhouse.com’s figures are not a matter of public record. The Wall Street Journal estimated that Waterhouse generated revenue of $12m in 2012 and Schwab claims the three-year-old company closed out 2012 some $15m in the red. Revenue reportedly rose to $28m in 2013, but that boost came as the result of a marketing push that Business Review Weekly estimated at anywhere from $20m to $45m (prior to the major retrenchment that occurred following the live odds brouhaha and the scuttling of Tom’s National Rugby League sponsorship deal).

On Monday, BRW revealed that Tom held one-third of the A, B and C classes of shares (there are six classes) in TomWaterhouse.com, while Tom’s aunt Louise (the sister of Tom’s dad, former bookie Robbie) held the other two-thirds. However, the day before the sale to Hills was announced, Louise transferred her shares to Bill Waterhouse, Robbie’s 91-year-old father. In December, two companies owned by Robbie, Louise and Tom transferred their D and E class shares to Tom and Bill.

Bottom line: BRW has suggested young Tom holds no more than a 25% stake in the business. Of the $110m deal price, Hills has guaranteed only $34m up front and $6m in debt assumption, while Schwab maintains that the Waterhouse family and other shareholders have $20m invested in the online business, leaving Tom’s slice of the remaining $20m at a maximum of $5m. Nothing to sneeze at, to be sure, but still only a quarter of the money Julia Roberts used to earn for six weeks work shooting some crappy rom-com, so a little perspective, people.

AUSSIE RULES… EVERYWHERE BUT NEW ZEALAND
The New Zealand TAB has released figures for its most recent fiscal year that showed basketball garnered $46.8m worth of wagers at TAB betting outlets, narrowly edging out rugby union’s $45.4m. Roundball’s boost in this nation of 4.4m inhabitants is attributable in part to NBA broadcasts on TAB’s Watch&Bet streaming service, but rugby union still attracted the most individual wagers. Over 50k TAB account holders wagered on rugby union in the past 12 months, nearly three times the 17k hoop bettors with deeper pockets. The other top sports by turnover ranked as follows (in order of most popular to least): rugby league, football, tennis, cricket, baseball, NFL football, gold, hockey (the icy kind), netball and Aussie rules football.

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