Media conglomerate News Corp Australia is finalizing plans to launch bookmaking operations this year in partnership with a consortium linked to experienced gambling entrepreneur Matthew Tripp, former CEO of BetEasy and CrownBet. The businessman would serve as chief executive of the business, reports local media.
The Australian giant, owned by media tycoon Rupert Murdoch, has been reported as working on a strategy to launch wagering operations for some time now. But after more than a year, and a number of negotiations with other potential venture partners, News Corp seems to have found its perfect business match in Tripp, sources told Sydney Morning Herald.
According to reports, News Corp has settled on an equity partnership with a group of investors associated with Tripp and the Nevada-based gaming investment fund Tekkorp. However, it still remains unknown when a deal will be formally announced or when the product will launch, although sources said News Corp told sports editorial staff advertising could start next month.
Additionally, industry sources told Sydney Morning Herald that the new company is expected to appoint former BetEasy CEO Andrew Menz as its chief executive. Menz left Sportsbet, which merged with BetEast in 2019, in May last year: this further fuels speculation he would now join Tripp’s new project.
Australia’s gaming industry would thus see a new competitor joining the bookmaking space, one with the backing of News Corp’s media reach and a seasoned group of executives in sports betting. Among them is Tripp, who built Sportsbet into the country’s second-largest bookmaking behind Tabcorp, and established BetEasy in 2014 before selling it to The Stars Group.
Murdoch’s interest in the gaming industry comes as the Victorian state government declared a reset for bids for a wagering license, with Tabcorp’s 12-year license exclusivity for retail operations concluding in August 2024, reports RSN. It is believed the new license could be divided among multiple operators, with Murdoch and Tripp making their intentions clear.
Gambling entrepreneur Matthew Tripp
In addition to providing Tripp a new venture in a space he knows well, the opportunity could help New Corp drive revenue to offset declines in its traditional print media assets. The conglomerate would capitalize on the reach of some of its more well-known products, including the Herald Sun, Daily Telegraph and a 60% ownership of pay-TV provider Foxtel, to promote the product.
The strategy would be similar to that of FOX Bet, the sports wagering product the Murdoch family launched in the US through its Fox Corp media business in 2019, in association with Stars Group. However, that plan has thus far mostly resulted in disappointment for the family, amid ongoing ownership issues with partner Flutter Entertainment, which bought Stars in 2020.
The three-year-old FOX Bet app was described as “struggling to expand” in a March report, despite heavy promotion through Fox TV networks in the US. While News Corp previously explored the idea of utilgizing the FOX Bet brand in Australia as well, it is now expected for the joint venture -in which News Corp might be a minority investor- to run under a new brand.