UK GAMBLING group Ladbrokes has acquired an Australian sports betting business, encroaching on a market where Paddy Power has become a leader.
Ladbrokes said it has agreed to pay an initial A$22.5m (€15.6m) to buy Gaming Investments, an online sports betting business. Its businesses include Bookmaker.com.au and Panda Gaming, which is the operator of an extensive racing and sports-focused affiliate network in Australia. Ladbrokes CEO Richard Glynn described the acquisition as an "excellent opportunity" for the firm to establish a strong presence in Australia.
Launched in early 2012, Bookmaker.com.au saw about A$400m (€278m) staked through its website in the year to June 30, 2013.
The equivalent of €935m was staked through Paddy Power's online Australian business in the first half of this year, up 26pc on the first six months of 2012. Net revenue at the business in the first half of 2013 was 33pc higher at €86m while operating profits at the unit in the period jumped 30pc to €16.5m.
The amount staked at the division through mobile devices in the first half more than doubled to €274m, representing 35pc of the total staked.
Paddy Power's Australian business has about 241,000 active customers, compared to 178,000 at the end of June last year.
Ladbrokes said it plans to mainly use its own brand in Australia, but that existing brands will be used "where appropriate".
"An active marketing campaign will be launched shortly focusing on the Spring Racing Carnival, which encompasses a 65-day racing programme throughout the state of Victoria, culminating in the 2013 Melbourne Cup," it said.
Financier Dermot Desmond owns a chunk of Ladbrokes. He sold his Betdaq betting exchange to Ladbrokes earlier this year for up to €43m in cash and shares. Last month, Ladbrokes also agreed to pay €6m to buy Dublin-based Chronicle Bookmakers, in which Mr Desmond had a stake.