The privatization of TAB’s wagering business in WA will be concluded by the end of 2022, and three betting operators are vying for it. The sale of the government-owned betting provider was announced in 2015, but the pandemic put the whole process on hold.
That changed last October when the state-owned business went up for sale again, and bidders had until August 22 to submit their offers. Racing and Gaming Minister Tony Buti declined to say who the bidders were because of commercial sensitivities, but, according to The West Australian, three groups lodged offers before the deadline day.
They include Ladbrokes and Neds owner Entain, a Matthew Tripp consortium that reportedly includes Seven West Media, and Australian gaming operator Tabcorp.
Legislative Amendments Are Needed
One of the bidders for WA’s TAB is former Sportsbet, BetEasy, and CrownBet chief Matthew Tripp. Tripp has recently partnered with News Corp Australia and Tekkorp Capital. The trio will launch Australia’s newest betting operator, BetR, next month.
The offers that Tripp’s consortium and its two rivals submitted will now be assessed and evaluated by a committee that includes representatives from the Department of Local Government, Racing and Wagering Western Australia, the Department of Treasury, and Sport and Cultural Industries.
A spokesperson for the Racing and Gaming Minister said that before the bids were evaluated, betting legislation would need to change, and amendments would have to be processed by State Parliament.
TAB’s Value More than Tripled
When the privatization of WA TAB resumed last year, the government said that the company or group that buys TAB will no longer be required to fund WA’s racing industry as TAB did. The state would do that instead.
The clause to fund the racing industry in WA was considered by many as the main hurdle to the sale – removing it increased TAB’s value to $1 billion, more than tripling the betting operator’s market value.
Seeing how there are three bids for the state-owned business, it is obvious that freeing the new buyer from that responsibility helped the sale. It is now up to the state to choose the best bid and finalize the sale.
According to Deputy Under Treasurer Michael Court, the sale could be wrapped up “late in the year” provided the offers were enticing. Premier Mark McGowan seems to be on the same page and said that the industry was “keen for a sale.” He claimed that TAB was competing with “major gaming operators” and that it would be better if a “new model” of funding was put in place.