Last week’s approval of the Tabcorp-Tatts merger by Aussie competition watchdogs spells big changes for the local gambling industry, including the possible demise of Tabcorp’s Northern Territory-licensed online betting brand Luxbet and Tatts’ UBET wagering brand.
Speaking to RSN’s Racing Pulse program this week, Tabcorp CEO David Attenborough said “the most obvious or notable changes” from the merger would be in the states where UBET operates – Queensland, South Australia and Tasmania – as the enlarged company would “extend the TAB brand … so the UBET brand will fall away.”
Tatts launched the UBET brand in April 2015 to encompass its Tattsbet, Tatts.com, TAB and Tote brands, which prompted Tabcorp to take some public potshots at its rival’s new betting identity. Despite this ribbing, Tatts enjoyed healthy growth at its rebranded betting operations, particularly online.
Tabcorp had previously announced that its Luxbet division was expected to book a net operating loss of around A$13m in the company’s fiscal 2017, which concludes at the end of June. Attenborough said that since the enlarged company would be operating the TAB in every state except Western Australia, “it certainly becomes a big question mark as to whether Luxbet is a fit to the business.”
In addition to a more streamlined marketing approach, the consolidation of Tabcorp-Tatts’ wagering identity could also lead to the creation of a national tote pool. Attenborough said there was “a range of approvals and support required from the racing industry to achieve that but it’s an aim of ours to get there.”
The lack of a Western Australia presence is another obstacle to Tabcorp-Tatts’ control over a national tote pool, but the state government has publicly mused about selling the WA TAB. Attenborough said his firm would be interested in acquiring the WA TAB if the government were to flog it but “we work very close with WA anyway and they are strong pooling partners into the SuperTab pool.”
CLOUDY SKIES HANGING OVER SUN BETS
Speaking of betting brands with uncertain futures, documents filed with Aussie competition watchdogs offered further evidence of the difficulty Tabcorp is having establishing its Sun Bets brand in the UK. Tabcorp launched Sun Bets in August 2016 and the division reported an A$18m loss in fiscal H1. Tabcorp now says the loss for the fiscal year will likely total A$46m.
Despite the growing pains, Attenborough told the Australian Financial Review that his company was committed to making a success of Sun Bets, saying there were “a range of initiatives planned or underway that will give the business a boost.”