Australian online bookmaking business Betstar has been sold to British gambling behemoth Ladbrokes, in a deal reported to be worth $20-$25 million.
Betstar was founded by Alan Eskander and his bookmaker father Michael in 2007, and has an annual turnover of around $300 million. It is one of the few remaining Australian-owned operators.
Ladbrokes entered the Australian betting market last year after a $22.5 million purchase of Brisbane-based Gaming Investments, which owned the website Bookmaker.com.au. Around $400 million in bets were placed on Bookmaker.com.au prior to its sale to the British betting giant.
Alan Eskander told SmartCompany for a small-to-medium sized bookmaker it was becoming increasingly difficult to compete with larger companies.
What will the election mean to you?
Sign up to our free newsletter, including this weekend’s coverage of the election.
“The environment has been changing quite dramatically over the past five years or so,” he says. “Offshore bookmakers are coming into Australia and investing enormous amounts of money.”
Eskander says changing market conditions motivated the decision to sell Betstar, with the Australian gambling market changing beyond recognition over the past couple of years.
He says it has become increasingly challenging for an Australian-owned, family-run business to keep up with the increasing demands from the market.
Eskander describes the deal as “really positive” and cited Ladbroke’s innovation and product offering as particularly beneficial to Betstar members.
“Now is the right time not only for the Betstar shareholders but the members,” he said. “I’ve put my heart and soul into this business for a long time and I take comfort that Ladbroke is going to extend on what we’ve already built for the Betstar members.”
According to a 2011 survey by The Economist,Australians are the world’s biggest gamblers – spending $1208.75 per capita. The online market accounts for around half of all wagers.