BUSINESS

Betstar founder says no future for independent bookies in Australia

TAGs: alan eskander, Australia, Betstar, Ladbrokes, William Hill

betstar-alan-eskanderUK bookies Ladbrokes have confirmed their purchase of Australian independent bookmaker Betstar. The deal, rumors of which surfaced earlier this week, will see Lads pay A$22m (£12.4m) to acquire the online betting firm, which boasts 40k customers and revenue of A$12.9m on annual turnover of A$214m. Lads international managing director Damian Cope said the deal would further bolster the company’s presence down under following September’s £13m acquisition of Gaming Investments, operators of Bookmaker.com.au, which the company has rebranded as Ladbrokes.com.au.

Betstar founder Alan Eskander (pictured) sent an email to customers announcing the sale while insisting that the brand would “live on.” Lads confirmed it would maintain Betstar as a separate brand, although customers will be migrated over to the Ladbrokes Australia technology platform and the Betstar site will undergo a makeover. The platform migration is expected to generate annual cost synergies of around A$5m.

Eskander had previously said he had no interest in selling out in order to “sit on the beach” for the next 30 years, but this week he told Smart Company that continuing life as an independent bookie was becoming nigh on impossible thanks to the influx of UK corporate bookies “investing enormous amounts of money” into the lucrative Aussie market. Eskander said the market had become virtually unrecognizable and he no longer believed that an independent family-run business could compete. Eskander insisted he’d “put my heart and soul into this business for a long time” but the writing was on the wall.

Meanwhile, Lads rivals William Hill have completed the migration of their multiple Aussie brands onto a single technology platform. Hills acquired its Australian brands – Centrebet, Sportingbet Australia and Tom Waterhouse – in 2013, making Hills one the country’s largest online bookmakers alongside Paddy Power/Sportsbet and Tabcorp. Like Lads, Hills plans to maintain its individual brands while enjoying synergies from unified technology. Sportingbet.com.au is set for a re-launch with a newfound emphasis on mobile technology.

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