Betr Drops Bid for Tab License in Western Australia After Fight With the Government

By | October 24, 2022

Tabcorp is now almost a shoo-in to take over a major gaming market in Western Australia (WA). Betr was reportedly close to becoming the operator of the Australian state’s TAB company, but has backed out over a dispute with the government.

Matthew Tripp
Matthew Tripp, a sports betting entrepreneur, conducts an interview from his office earlier this year. His new company, Betr, was to take over Western Australia’s TAB gaming operations, but just backed out. (Image: The Sydney Morning Herald)

TAB is a state-run betting outfit that manages both online and retail operations. Up for grabs was a license worth around AU$1 billion (US$631.1 million), but it was apparently not enough to make Betr flexible.

It backed out only hours before WA was to make its decision on the privatization of TAB in the state. It apparently didn’t like the branding arrangements, although, given who’s behind the company, it should have known going in what was in store.

Betr Balks At Branding Deal

The Australian reported the change in plans, but didn’t specify the exact nature of the dispute. The TAB brand is largely a Tabcorp brand throughout the rest of Australia, and Betr allegedly found something in the negotiations that it didn’t like.

Betr’s a relatively new company, but not one without a strong background. Its founder is long-time betting entrepreneur Matthew Tripp, and had ties to News Corp and Tekkorp Capital. In addition, Apollo Global Management, Washington H. Soul Pattinson and Blackstone stepped in to help finance the deal.

The odd circumstances and last-minute exit come long after the online sports betting operator received the green light to take over WA’s TAB operations. It had the most money on the table for the deal, beating out Tabcorp and Entain.

The West Australian reported a different angle over the weekend, although it might not have anything to do with Betr’s announcement. It said that Betr received a deadline to prove that it could afford to finance the TAB deal in WA.

Now that Betr is out, Tabcorp will likely receive the license. While neither it nor Entain will pay more – they have both already stated as much – it has a better position to take over. Recent questions about Entain’s anti-money laundering practices in Australia might have caused it damage.

Although Tabcorp is the frontrunner because of its large totalizer footprint in Australia, this doesn’t mean Entain is out. The Australian reported that the government wants to talk to both to see what it can work out.

Losing out on WA isn’t the end of the line for Betr. In addition to its international ambitions, which include the US, it has its eye on accessing the betting market in Victoria, Australia.

Betr Off To Slow Start Domestically

Betr is only now getting its feet wet in Australia and, despite its experience and talent, is off to a rocky start. Only a week in, it’s already facing trouble in New South Wales (NSW).

Earlier this month, Liquor and Gaming NSW launched an investigation into the company. The Australian Financial Review reported that the regulator was taking a close look following a promotion Betr introduced.  

In the promotion, which News Corp dutifully carried, Betr offered 100-to-1 odds on the Melbourne Cup. However, offering any scheme to induce consumers to wager on a horse race, or any other betting event, is against the rules.

If Betr violated the rules, it could face a stiff penalty. Companies that violate covenants o the Betting and Racing Act of 1998 can receive fines of up to AU$110,000 ($69,000).

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