Australian gambling giant Tabcorp has warned it could bring its competitors Ladbrokes and Neds to court as it seeks to put an end to a partnership that puts its monopoly in New South Wales (NSW) clubs and pubs in danger and raises the prospect of more gambling adverts inside venues.
The legal dispute comes to prove exactly how competitive Australia’s sports betting industry is, with operators battling for a bigger share of the local market. Tabcorp, which is historically known mainly for its in-store betting services, is now prioritising online gambling wagering services that are offered in direct competition with two digital gambling brands of Entain.
The questionable deal that may be jeopardising the exclusivity rights of Tabcorp to offer sports betting services across New South Wales’ hotels and pubs was signed in October 2022 between Isle of Man-based gambling operator Entain and NSW Australian Hotels Association (AHA). At the time, it was unveiled as a commercial agreement that would provide both companies with the chance to promote two online betting brands of Entain Australia – Ladbrokes and Neds – on the premises of statewide clubs and pubs. In other words, under the provisions of the agreement, Entain would be allowed to promote the two brands and create designated zones for local consumers.
Tabcorp objected to the deal back then, saying that the agreement may infringe on its exclusivity wagering agreement with the NSW AHA. Now, the Australian gambling giant has finally decided to take action and challenge the aforementioned commercial partnership.
NSW Supreme Court Allows Tabcorp to Access Legal Advice and Details of the Controversial Deal
At the time when the controversial deal was announced, Tabcorp argued that the two parties failed to provide enough information on their agreement, with the lack of enough publicly available details only supporting its suspicion that its exclusivity licence deal would be violated by the partnership.
On March 15th, NSW Supreme Court judge James Stevenson issued an order under which Tabcorp would be provided with legal advice and details on the Entain-NSW AHA agreement. This would include more information on the proposed “Neds Club lunges” and “VIP Ladbrokes activation zones” that are set to be created inside NSW pubs as part of the deal.
A spokesman for the Australian gambling giant confirmed that the documents disclosed under the Supreme Court justice’s order would be reviewed by Tabcorp, with the company set to decide whether or not to start legal proceedings against Entain or NSW Australian Hotels Association, or both.
According to court documents, the NSW Australian Hotels Association addressed Tabcorp in October last year to highlight the fact that it remained committed to supporting the exclusive and long-term retail betting licence held by Tabcorp in hotels across the state of New South Wales. The letter sent to the Australian gambling giant at the time also stated that none of the arrangements agreed between NSW AHA and Entain undermined the aforementioned retail exclusivity of Tabrop or violate any laws, including the state’s Unlawful Gambling Act 1998, as claimed by the company.
Last year, at the time when the two companies officially unveiled their agreement, the chief executive officer of NSW AHA, John Whelan, shared that a large number of Tabcorp facilities were operated at significant losses by hotels across the state and had to be changed. He explained that the partnership with Entain would finally provide hotels in New South Wales competition and choice that they really needed.
Dean Shannon, the CEO of Entain Australia has commented that the agreement would allow his company to connect and communicate with audiences inside local pubs. In his opinion, there was no reason why traditional betting services could not coexist across NSW hotels alongside the newest sponsorship agreement with Entain brands under which their online gambling offering was set to be advertised.
Olivia Cole has worked as a journalist for several years now. Over the last couple of years she has been engaged in writing about a number of industries and has developed an interest for the gambling market in the UK.