Canadian online poker giant The Stars Group Inc is set to become one of the dominant players in Australia’s online sports betting market after reaching an agreement to acquire William Hill Australia Holdings Pty Ltd.
The deal forms part of the company’s acquisition of former Crown Resorts subsidiary CrownBet Holdings Pty Limited, announced last week, with The Stars Group now set to boost its stake in CrownBet from 62% to 80%. CrownBet will subsequently acquire William Hill Australia in a deal worth US$315 million, of which US$234 million will be paid in cash for William Hill Australia and the other US$81 million to CrownBet for the increased stake.
The Stars Group’s aggressive move positions it and CrownBet as a clear number three in Australia’s highly competitive online sports betting landscape behind only Tabcorp and Sportsbet.
“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,” said The Stars Group CEO Rafi Ashkenazi.
“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.”
It was also mooted in the Australian media over the weekend that The Stars Group would use any income generated via its CrownBet acquisition to fund the fight to have online poker legalized in Australia after tightened regulations saw The Stars Group’s biggest asset, PokerStars, forced to withdraw from the Australian market last year.
In 2017, William Hill Australia generated unaudited annual revenues of AU$190.5 million and unaudited annual EBITDA of AU$49.6 million, while CrownBet generated unaudited annual revenues of aroundAU$204.0 million and unaudited annual EBITDA of AU$7.9 million.
CrownBet CEO Matthew Tripp, who will remain in the role following the takeover by The Stars Group, said the acquisition of William Hill Australia “gives us the scale and customers to become a leading force in the market and the tools we will need to prepare for potential positive regulatory movement in other jurisdictions.”