BUSINESS

Centrebet wins suit against Norwegian whale; Betstar vows no sell out… unless

TAGs: alan eskander, Australia, Betstar, Centrebet, Ladbrokes, northern territory, Norway

centrebet-betstar-ladbrokes-australiaUK bookmakers Ladbrokes are celebrating the launch of their new Australian online betting site with a $250 free bet offer. Aussie punters who open up an account with Ladbrokes.com.au using the promo code MAXIMUMBONUS will receive a 100% bonus on their initial deposit up to a $250 max.

Lads’ acquisition of the former Bookmaker.com.au operation earlier this month followed hot on the heels of Lads’ UK rival William Hill snapping up TomWaterhouse.com to complement Hills’ previous acquisitions of the soon-to-be-retired Sportingbet and Centrebet brands. With Paddy Power having long ago acquired the Sportsbet brand, there aren’t many Aussie bookmakers besides Betstar and BetEzy that have yet to be absorbed by international betting firms.

BETSTAR VOW TO REMAIN INDEPENDENT… UNLESS
In November, Betstar managing director Alan Eskander said he’d been approached with buyout offers, but vowed that he wouldn’t consider selling out because he’d get bored ‘sitting on the beach’ wondering what to do with himself. Earlier this month, Eskander told the Australian Financial Review that he anticipated “getting a lot of knocks on the door in the next three to six months,” but suggested that there was “something in being just about the only Australian-owned corporate bookmaker out there.” Eskander says Betstar will incorporate this patriotic streak into its marketing, “without being over the top.”

That said, Eskander admitted that every man has his price and that he would “have to consider” a “big offer.” But he can’t shake that image of himself bored on the beach, still unsure as to “what I would do afterwards” or what would become of his loyal staffers. Without getting too specific, Eskander said his company was profitable, reaping annual revenue of between $250m and $300m, but most of Betstar’s earnings had gone back into marketing.

CENTREBET LEGALLY HARPOONS NORWEGIAN WHALE
Centrebet will have a lot more money for marketing after winning a court case against a Norwegian gambler who lost a total of $15m wagering on Centrebet and Bet365 several years ago. Bjarte Baasland, the son of a Norwegian bishop, made headlines in 2009 when he decided to sue the online gambling companies for negligence, accusing them of offering him aggressive bonuses in order to keep him playing and insisting that it should have been obvious that he had a gambling problem. Baasland further argued that the companies had no right to accept his action when his homeland didn’t allow such shenanigans.

Bet365 was eventually dropped from the docket, but since Centrebet offered players the option of wagering in Norwegian currency and on Norwegian sporting events, Norway’s Supreme Court attempted to claim jurisdiction on the case. Problem was, Baasland had done much of his gambling from hotel rooms while travelling abroad, muddying the jurisdictional waters. Not helping Baasland’s case was the revelation that much of his betting money had been borrowed from members of his own family, and Baasland had told his relatives he’d lost the money in misguided investments in internet startup firms in the Czech Republic. (Remember, kids… It’s not really a lie if you yourself believe it.)

Centrebet is licensed in Australia’s Northern Territory, and that state’s Supreme Court Justice Graham Hiley has now ruled that Baasland has no right to claim damages, since Centrebet hadn’t violated the terms of its NT license and couldn’t have known that Baasland’s bankroll wasn’t rightly his own. Hiley therefore released Centrebet from any obligation to obey any Norwegian court’s judgment and also ordered Baasland to pay Centrebet’s court costs.

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