Tabcorp hits back at CrownBet with NSW hotels wagering deal


tabcorp-new-south-wales-hotel-betting-partnershipAustralian betting operator Tabcorp Holdings has hit back at rival CrownBet’s invasion of its New South Wales retail turf.

In February, CrownBet made headlines by signing a 10-year official digital wagering partnership with Clubs NSW, providing punters with an in-venue online betting alternative to Tabcorp’s TAB betting windows at Clubs NSW’s 1,350 members. The deal was seen as CrownBet horning in on what had until then been Tabcorp’s traditional stomping grounds.

On Monday, Tabcorp sought to shore up its NSW retail business by announcing a five-year exclusive wagering partnership with the Australian Hotels Association NSW. Tabcorp said the AHA’s 1,116 member venues accounted for around $1.6b of the company’s annual turnover.

The deal includes a digital commission model which allows AHA members a cut of betting revenue from customers who wager on the premises as well as ongoing commissions from customers who open TAB accounts via the venues. Tabcorp has inked similar commission deals in Victoria and the Australian Capital Territory.

Tabcorp CEO David Attenborough celebrated the deal as cementing the TAB’s role in the “social tradition” of having a bet in a pub. AHA CEO John Whelan logrolled back, expressing excitement over “the direction Tabcorp is heading with digital wagering in PubTABs and we’re looking forward to the roll-out of new hotel products and technology over the next five years.”

When CrownBet announced its Clubs NSW deal, Tabcorp had petulantly threatened to pull its Sky Racing broadcast service from the clubs, but Attenborough subsequently announced that Sky Racing would continue to appear in the venues, “notwithstanding Tabcorp’s position as to the legality of the CrownBet offer.”

CrownBet and Tabcorp are increasingly warning on a variety of fronts, including the legality of Australia’s proposed in-play online sports betting ban, which contains a carveout for the in-venue betting services previously offered only by the likes of Tabcorp and Tatts Group.

CrownBet, which is owned by Aussie casino operator Crown Resorts, is also among the companies formally protesting Tabcorp’s proposed mega-merger with Tatts. CrownBet argues that the union would alter the country’s betting landscape “in a way that cannot be reversed” by creating a single entity with total control over tote betting rights and retail wagering exclusivity in every state except Western Australia.

Last month, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission expressed reservations about the dominance of a combined Tabcorp and Tatts, prompting the two companies to transfer their merger application to the Australian Competition Tribunal. CrownBet is expected to be among the companies filing applications with the Tribunal this week to intervene in the case.