Paddy Power Betfair, a global gambling giant, and owner of Sportsbet in Australia is urging Victoria to allow multiple retail betting operators in the region. The London-listed company is calling for a radical revamp of laws in the region which could allow more operators to enter the space and make the market more competitive, similar to Ireland and the United Kingdom.
The company is asking the Andrews government to allow more operators to enter the market and encourage fierce competition in the fast-growing industry. The company suggests that it leads to better consumer choice, product innovation and a “better overall experience for wagering customers.” It says that taking the step to liberalize the retail license structure will allow retail wagering customers to enjoy its benefits.
The online betting industry is getting more popular in Australia than ever- growing at a staggering 15 percent per year. Paddy Power Betfair, Bet365 and Ladbrokes, some of the biggest bookmakers in the world have already acquired licensed to operate their gambling sites in the country. However, Tabcorp, an ASX-listed company, is the only one in Victoria to hold the 12-year wagering license from the government.
Tabcorp is allowed to run pari-mutuel and fixed-odds betting in the region. It is also allowed to run off-course retail betting across the state in pub terminals and TAB shops. Tabcorp has recently merged with its long-time competitor Tatts Group. The new combined company now holds exclusive licensed in retail betting in all states except Western Australia.
On the other hand, Paddy Power Betfair is one of the largest bookmakers in the world and has hundreds of retail betting shops spread across Ireland and the UK. It was one of the companies showing early interest in Victorian wagering markets which will be up for renewal in 2024. It operates Sportsbet in Australia.
The company’s call for radical changes in the market by the government is also being criticized by gambling-reform campaigners. They suggest that there are already too many opportunities for gambling companies to market their products to the customers.
Tim Costello of the Alliance for Gambling Reforms said that allowing Sportsbet to open retail shops would be a bad move as the bookmaker is a key reason why gambling advertising and losses have increased in the country over the past 10 years. He noted that Sportsbet expansion in Australia should be “vigorously resisted.”
Sportsbet is also pushing the government to sever the links between wagering license holders and racing industry funding, saying that the rule was created in the time of state-based monopoly licenses. Note that Tabcorp is working in a joint venture with the Victorian racing industry and it shares a part of its gambling revenue to support greyhound, harness and thoroughbred racing. Racing Victoria received $216 million from the joint venture last year.