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Stars Group settles a binding agreement with CrownBet Holdings to acquire William Hill Australia

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Intending to acquire William Hill Australia, Stars Group – the Canadian gaming and online gambling company escalated its stake in CrownBet Holdings as the company penned a binding agreement with the latter.

The aggregate purchase price for both transactions is estimated to be approximately US$315m (€255m), of which US$234m will be payable in cash for William Hill Australia and the remainder will be payable in approximately 3.1 million newly-issued common shares of The Stars Group for the increased equity interest in CrownBet.

The binding agreement and Stars Group hiking its stake in CrownBet to 80% comes on the heels of PokerStars owner acquiring 62% of the operator for a fee of around US$117.7m.

In view of this, Rafi Ashkenazi, the CEO of The Stars Group said: “These acquisitions will further increase our exposure to the attractive regulated Australian sportsbook market and create a player of scale and clear rival to the top two operators there. With complementary geographic profiles, we expect the combined business to leverage CrownBet’s operating and proprietary technology platform and be well positioned for growth and to navigate the ongoing regulatory and taxation changes in the Australian market.”

William Hill Australia operates licensed betting over the telephone, online and via mobile phone platforms, but William Hill in January stated it was excogitating on selling the division over panicking that a gambling crackdown in the country could hit profit.

Last month, Bet365 was linked with a move for the business, while Paddy Power Betfair was also demonstrated their interest in acquiring the division.

However, CrownBet has been able to overtake its rivals and clinch a deal, which is due to go through following regulatory approvals from the Foreign Investment Review Board and the Northern Territory Racing Commission.

William Hill said that disposal proceeds, net of costs, will be used initially to reduce group indebtedness and invested to support further growth.

Philip Bowcock, the Chief Executive at William Hill, said: “The disposal follows a strategic review of the business, launched in January after its profitability came under increased pressure due to the recent credit betting ban and the likely introduction of a Point of Consumption tax. The disposal will allow William Hill to focus on continuing to grow our UK Online and US businesses, particularly as we prepare for the decision on the PASPA appeal due in 2018.”

Last month, Crown Resorts said that it had agreed to sell its majority stake in the business amid reports William Hill had been interested in a possible deal.

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Aristocrat Appoints Matthew Primmer as Chief Product Officer

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Aristocrat Leisure Ltd announced the appointment of Mr Matthew (Matt) Primmer to the position of Chief Product Officer, reporting directly to Aristocrat CEO & Managing Director Trevor Croker. Mr Primmer’s appointment is effective immediately. He will join Aristocrat’s Executive Steering Committee, and remain based at the company’s offices in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Mr Primmer comes to the role with over 20 years’ experience in the global gaming industry, including ten years at Aristocrat in a range of senior product strategy, insights and leadership roles in Australia and the US. Mr Primmer has been Chief Product Officer at Aristocrat Gaming for four years, leading Design & Development (D&D) in Aristocrat’s largest operating business, with casino game content and hardware comprising its most strategically important portfolios. Mr Primmer previously held marketing and sales roles at Ainsworth Game Technology and Shuffle Master. Mr Primmer holds a Bachelor of Commerce from the University of Wollongong.

“I am delighted to elevate a global gaming executive of Matt’s calibre to our leadership team. Over the past decade, Matt has made a strong contribution to building and extending Aristocrat Gaming’s global product leadership, fostering our outstanding creative and technical talent, championing D&D and placing customer needs at the centre of our product strategy,” Mr Croker said.

“Matt’s appointment brings additional, proven gaming experience to the executive team. In his new role, Matt will help us maintain an enterprise view of product strategy as our business grows to encompass a broader range of product verticals, while also ensuring the most effective allocation of D&D investment” Croker added.

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Australia

Victoria Racing Club, Tabcorp and Nine Enter Landmark Deal for Melbourne Cup Carnival

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The Victoria Racing Club (VRC), Tabcorp and Nine Entertainment (Nine) announced a groundbreaking broadcast, media and sponsorship deal for the world-famous Melbourne Cup Carnival from 2024 to 2029.

The landmark agreement will see the VRC and Tabcorp enter a game-changing partnership combining enhanced year-round sponsorship, and domestic and international media rights for the Carnival.

The Melbourne Cup Carnival will be broadcast on all SKY platforms and the TAB app, with Tabcorp having the right to on-sell the coverage to wagering providers.

Nine will be the free to air partner of the Melbourne Cup Carnival, including audio-visual rights for broadcast, streaming, mobile, digital and social platforms. Tabcorp will be the exclusive wagering integration partner for Nine’s broadcast of the Melbourne Cup Carnival.

The new rights package means that Nine will be the broadcast home of Penfolds Derby Day, Lexus Melbourne Cup Day, VRC Oaks Day and TAB Champions Stakes Day. All four days of the Carnival – one of the nation’s most significant cultural events – will be broadcast live and free in high-definition on Channel 9 and streamed on 9Now.

The partnership allows the VRC to invest strategically for the long term in the key areas of the Melbourne Cup Carnival, member engagement, the year-round racing programme, Flemington Racecourse tracks and facilities and the broader community. It will also bring significant new investment to the racing industry which will support and fund innovations on and off the track, create new jobs and further enhance equine welfare initiatives.

The agreement represents a partnership encompassing broadcast, content, partnership rights and race naming rights. This partnership will create significant exposure for the brands and their partners as it brings together the biggest names in sport.

VRC Chairman Neil Wilson said that this was an important strategic announcement for the industry, Tabcorp, Nine and the VRC.

“The VRC is delighted to extend and enhance its long-term partnership with Tabcorp. As Australia’s first major event, the Melbourne Cup Carnival will sit very appropriately in the calendar of Nine’s Wide World of Sport major event coverage,” Mr Wilson said.

“The Melbourne Cup Carnival is Australia’s pre-eminent racing event, and the partnership continues the VRC’s unwavering commitment to showcasing the very best the sport of racing has to offer and attracting new fans to the sport.

“The iconic nature of the event was highlighted by a successful 2023 Melbourne Cup Carnival, with more than 262,000 racing fans at Flemington and millions more engaging with the Lexus Melbourne Cup at home and abroad.

“The Melbourne Cup Carnival is one of Australia’s most culturally and economically important major events, and it is right here in Melbourne – considered by many as the sporting capital of the world.

“As its custodians, the VRC places significant emphasis on protecting the history and tradition of Cup Week, which is loved by so many Australians, while innovating for the future and investing in our club and the major event that is the Melbourne Cup Carnival.

“This landmark partnership is not only good for Melbourne and Victorian racing, but it also guarantees our sport has primacy across multiple platforms and channels.

“The partnership will enhance the community engagement and economic contribution that followed the 2023 Melbourne Cup Carnival, which saw more than $500,000 raised for different charity groups, an estimated 16,000 jobs generated and the delivery of thousands of visitors to Victoria from interstate and international locations, highlighting the broader impact of the event,” Mr Wilson said.

The Melbourne Cup Carnival delivered $422.1 million in economic benefit to Victoria in 2022, making it the largest economic contributor to the state of any major annual sporting event in the past decade, with early modelling suggesting the 2023 economic impact will be even greater than 2022.

In 2022, one in two adult Australians engaged with Lexus Melbourne Cup Day in some way and in 2023, the race itself was broadcast to 209 countries and territories with a potential global reach of 750 million people.

A key component of the partnership will see the VRC take the reins on managing the production for racing coverage through VRC Media, working closely with Tabcorp and Nine to elevate the way racing is broadcast across the globe.

VRC Chief Executive Officer Steve Rosich said the partnership underlined the club’s strategic commitment to being a world leader in racing, media, sponsorship and event experience.

“The partnership with Tabcorp and the arrangements with Nine have been developed by our close strategic alignment and a desire to grow and innovate in our industry,” Mr Rosich said.

“We are thrilled that in 2024 the Melbourne Cup Carnival will join the Nine big event stable alongside the Paris 2024 Olympic and Paralympic Games, Australian Open and State of Origin.

“Nine’s capability to showcase coverage of Melbourne Cup Carnival racing and events across the depth of their leading broadcast and streaming assets make for a compelling partnership outcome.”

Mr Rosich also thanked previous Melbourne Cup Carnival broadcast partner Network 10.

“The VRC acknowledges and thanks Network 10 for bringing together exceptional coverage of the Melbourne Cup Carnival since 2019. In partnership with Network 10 the VRC has expanded the range and reach of Cup Week across domestic and international audiences, and we were delighted to finish the partnership on a high, with increased viewership on Network 10 and 10 Play.”

Tabcorp CEO Adam Rytenskild said: “Tabcorp’s partnership with the VRC and Nine is the most innovative in Australian sport and we can’t wait to bring our entire digital, broadcast and retail ecosystem together to grow and promote the Melbourne Cup Carnival together.

“This partnership builds on Tabcorp winning the 20-year Victorian exclusive wagering licence and will be a key pillar of our growth strategy. Together with our Brand and Customer transformation, this partnership gives us a terrific platform to grow in Victoria, throughout Australia and around the world as we beam the Cup to more than 60 different countries through Sky Racing.”

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Australia

PointsBet Appoints Daniel Lucas as Group Chief Technology Officer

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PointsBet Holdings Limited announced the appointment of Daniel Lucas as Group Chief Technology Officer (CTO), effective 1 September 2024. Daniel will replace current Group CTO, US-based Jerry Bowskill, who will step down following completion of the sale of the US Business to Fanatics Betting and Gaming.

Daniel is serving out his current role as Global Director of Trading Technology at Flutter Entertainment Plc, leading the global trading technology operation and service across the Flutter Group (including Fanduel, Sportsbet, Paddypower, Betfair, Pokerstars and Skybet). Currently based in the UK, Daniel will relocate to Melbourne to take up his new role.

Prior to his global role at Flutter, Daniel held several senior positions at Sportsbet based in Melbourne, including Head of Data Solutions and Head of Trading Technology, which followed roles in the investment banking sector in London.

Daniel holds a Bachelor of Science (First Class Honours) and a Master of Business Systems from Monash University.

Sam Swanell, Chief Executive Officer of the PointsBet Group, said: “We are very pleased that a Senior Executive of Dan’s quality and experience is joining PointsBet. Dan’s understanding of complex platform and trading operations, in particular algorithmic trading, risk and advanced analytics together with his strong people leadership skills, are valuable assets to PointsBet’s Australian and Canadian operations, as we continue to invest in our market leading live betting and multi capability through Odds Factory.”

“I am super excited about the opportunity to join a technology and product led company like PointsBet. They continue to invest in their platforms and there are exciting growth opportunities ahead,” Daniel Lucas said.

“Jerry Bowskill has made an outstanding contribution to PointsBet over his tenure leading our global technology organisation. He has been an integral part of the group executive leadership team, and his experience and expertise has proven invaluable as we have planned for and executed the transition of our United States business to Fanatics. I would like to thank Jerry for all he has done for PointsBet and wish him all the best in his future endeavours,” Sam Swanell said.

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