Australian casino operator Crown Resorts has teamed with Matthew Tripp’s BetEasy on a new online betting joint venture. The tie-up, rumors of which surfaced earlier this month, will fuse Crown’s online betting division Betfair Australasia with BetEasy, which Tripp launched earlier this year. The new JV will be managed by Tripp but will be two-thirds owned by Crown.
The plan is for BetEasy to assume control of Betfair’s fixed-odds betting service while BetEasy will gain access to Crown’s two-million-strong Crown Signature Club database. The new online betting offering will also be linked with Crown’s rewards club program. While Crown registered a Crown Bet trademark last month, the plan is to operate under the BetEasy brand (for the moment, at least).
In August, Crown paid $10m to assume total control of the local Betfair operation, which had operated at a loss since its inception in 2004. The exchange betting service will continue to operate under the Betfair brand.
Tripp, who acquired the former Betezy operations earlier this year for $10m, was the founder of Sportsbet, which was acquired in 2009 by Irish betting operator Paddy Power. Unlike the Sportsbet sale, which reportedly earned Tripp $115m, Tripp said no cash changed hands as a result of the Crown deal. Tripp said the value of the deal “will be what we can grow it into.”
BetEasy has been aggressive about making a name for itself in the competitive Aussie betting market, having recently outbid rivals William Hill and Tabcorp for the Australian Football League betting partnership. Tripp says BetEasy and Crown “present a pretty formidable combination” while Crown boss James Packer touted the new JV’s ability to “compete strongly with the largely foreign-owned competitors in our wagering industry.”
In other Crown news, the company announced the departure of Ashok Jacob from Crown’s board of directors. Jacob, the chairman of investment group Ellerston Capital, has been a longtime Packer family lieutenant. The parting is reportedly amicable, although Jacob issued no statement explaining his decision, while Crown issued a brief statement thanking Ashok for his “valuable contribution to Crown over many years.”