Online bookmaker Sportsbet tried to extend its multi million-dollar advertising sponsorship with the AFL until the end of the decade, in an attempt to secure its place in the sport before News Corp’s soon-to-launch wagering business arrives on the market.
Wagering sources familiar with the talks, who requested anonymity to speak freely on the matter, said Sportsbet approached the AFL about extending its current deal, which expires in 2025, until 2030. Such a move, if successful, would prevent another wagering partner from working with the AFL or integrating promotions around matches. The AFL and Sportsbet declined to comment.
Sportsbet approached the AFL about extending its current deal, which expires in 2025, until 2030. Such a move, if successful, would prevent another wagering partner from working with the AFL or integrating promotions around matches.Credit:AFL photos
The sources said no deal was struck, but the timing of Sportsbet’s attempt is not a coincidence. The AFL is in the middle of crucial negotiations with potential broadcast partners about a deal that could see it lock in agreements with Seven and Foxtel until the end of the decade.
It also coincides with the imminent launch of BetR, a new wagering outfit led by former BetEasy owner Matthew Tripp and chief executive Andrew Menz. BetEasy was the exclusive wagering partner of the AFL before it merged with Sportsbet. Football and betting industry sources previously told this masthead the agreement is worth about $10 million per year.
Tripp is one of Australia’s most successful bookmakers, having built Sportsbet into the country’s second largest bookie behind the TAB and then establishing BetEasy in 2014 before selling it to Canadian gambling giant The Stars Group.
Wagering sponsorships are valuable as they give a partner first rights to integrate into the broadcaster’s coverage of a match and on websites such as NRL.com and AFL.com. AFL commentators have previously been critical of these deals as they encourage gambling. For wagering outfits, the integrations helps grow audience and revenue and for a new player like News Corp-backed BetR, which is expected to launch within a month, partnerships with key sport and racing bodies will build profile.
The move coincides with the imminent launch of BetR, a new wagering outfit led by former BetEasy owner Matthew Tripp (pictured) and chief executive Andrew Menz.Credit:Josh Robenstone
In the US, broadcasters typically take an equity stake in a betting outfit in exchange for sponsorship rights and brand promotion during live sports events. Fox Corp, which is owned by the Murdoch family in the US, has its own wagering company known as FoxBet.
The strategy for BetR is similar: capitalise on the reach of the Murdoch family’s news mastheads, which include the Herald Sun and Daily Telegraph, and its 60 per cent ownership of pay TV provider Foxtel, which broadcasts sporting codes including the AFL, NRL and Australian cricket.
But an extended agreement between SportsBet and the AFL would thwart BetR’s early attempts to integrate into the major sporting codes.
This masthead revealed last year News Corp was investing in a bookmaking outfit led by gambling entrepreneur Tripp. The venture, which is also backed by Las Vegas-based Tekkorp Capital and ASX-listed BetMakers Technology Group, is expected to be a major driver of revenue that could offset declines in News Corp’s traditional print media assets.
News Corp’s national masthead The Australian reported last month BetR was in talks with Seven West Media about signing on as an investor, but no decision has been finalised.
BetR is trying to scale up as quickly as possible, submitting a bid for the licence to the WA TAB as well as an expression of interest for the Victorian wagering licence. It also recently bought corporate bookmaker TexBet and made an offer to acquire PointsBet. While it will be run by Tripp and Menz, who are considered pioneers in digital wagering, it will be trying to take market share from against well-established bookies such as Tabcorp, Entain and Sportsbet.
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