Crownbet Bookmaker Site Changes Its Name to Sportingbet Pty Ltd
CrownBet, a top Australian betting site, plans to change its name to the Sportingbet Pty Ltd, according to the Australian Financial Review. The company chose to rebrand itself “Sportingbet” after Crown Resorts sold majority ownership of the company to the Stars Group in March.
Stars Group, the parent company of PokerStars, now owns 80% of CrownBet/Sportingbet. At the same time as the purchase, CrownBet was approved as the preferred bidder in a buyout of William Hill Australia — the Australian division of the world-famous UK sportsbook operator, William Hill Plc.
While a number of top international online gaming companies have left the Australian market in the past 18 months, Stars Group is doubling-down on its commitment to the Aussie betting industry. In fact, PokerStars was forced out of the Australian online poker market last year, but that was a decision forced on it by new laws. Stars Group is familiar with the Australian sports betting market and sees it as a profitable enterprise. William Hill thinks just the opposite.
In 2013, William Hill Australia invested heavily in the Australian gaming market. William Hill purchased three Australian bookmakers — Sportingbet, Tom Waterhouse, and Centrebet — for a combined £460 million.
William Hill Australia
The investment in the Australian sports betting market proved to be troublesome for William Hill, because Australian gaming regulation became more hostile to international investors in the 5 years since. Smartphone sports betting apps were outlawed in the IGA 2016 amendment, while sports betting advertisements during Aussie televised sports were curtailed.
Also, international online casino sites were banned from Australia, meaning William Hill could not leverage its online casino to drive more customers to its Aussie bookmaker sites. The final straw was a proposed Point-of-Consumption Tax discussed in 3 Australian states (and imposed in one state).
The combination of factors meant William Hill Australian could not make a profit in the Aussie gaming market. With the PASPA repeal in the United States, William Hill sold its Australian assets to Stars Group and focused its efforts on the US sports betting market.
CrownBet and Sportingbet
That left Stars Group with CrownBet, as well as several of William Hill’s former bookmaker brands: Sportingbet, Tom Waterhouse, and Centrebet. CrownBet is associated in the Australian market with Crown Resorts, so a name change was required, to differentiate the business from the previous ownership.
Of the three brands acquired almost at the same time, Sportingbet is the best-known among Australian punters. Thus, Sportingbet is the natural selection for Stars Group’s main Australian brand.
Australian Point-of-Consumption Taxes
Stars Group’s new Sportingbet will be Australia’s third largest online gambling business. Despite the huge acquisition, Aussie gaming experts believe the new Point-of-Consumption Tax is going to have a deleterious effect on all Australian gambling operators. The tax is similar to the 15% POC tax imposed in the United Kingdom a few years back, though it will be applied at the state level of government.
South Australian already has a 15% Point-of-Consumption Tax. A 15% POC tax comes into effect in the Australian Capital Territory (Canberra) on January 1, 2019. New South Wales plans a 10% tax on betting revenues generated from in-state gamblers, which also will go into effect on January 1, 2019.
Queensland Point-of-Consumption Tax
Queensland passed a 15% Point-of-Consumption Tax that comes into effect a few months earlier on October 1, 2018. Finally, Victoria plans an 8% Point-of-Consumption Tax, meaning the most heavily populated parts of Australian will have heavy new taxation on the country’s gambling industry.
Domestic Australian companies lobbied the national and state governments to push out offshore gaming operators, hoping to establish the kind of limited competition they have in the land-based gaming markets. Often, Australian casino operators, totalizators, and lottery companies operate in a monopoly or duopoly.
Internet Gambling Amendment 2016
The Aussie companies succeeded in pushing out the publicly-traded online casino operators and ended the smartphone sports betting app industry, but their success brought unintended consequences. First, unregulated offshore online casinos took the place of those driven out, so Aussie bettors did not flock to the domestic casino sites they way it was predicted they would.
Then the various Australian states, believing they had eliminated the competition, felt justified in passing large point-of-consumption taxes. They felt domestic operators could afford the higher tax rate. The added regulation and taxation is likely to have a withering effect on the legal Australian online gambling industry, though.