www.igamingbusiness.com reports today that William Hill is benefitting from its Australian Open sponsorship right now. William Hill generated an 80% year-on-year increase in betting turnover in Australia on the opening day of the Australian Open tennis grand slam event, of which it is an official partner.
The overall rise, reported by the Sydney Morning Herald newspaper, was dwarfed by a 300% leap in in-play betting, and came despite comprehensive media coverage of match-fixing allegations against the sport.
In October 2015, William Hill become the official betting partner of the Australian Open, in a deal that also gave it an exclusive advertising package across domestic television and digital channels. While the relationship between the event and the betting industry has been criticised by some top players, including British No.1 Andy Murray, in the wake of the match-fixing expose, the Australian Wagering Council, which represents William Hill and other large international bookmakers, defended the sector.
As an eager follower of the international tennis circuit, we have noticed heavy advertising by Amaya ($AYA) owned Betstars, the new sports betting brand by the makers of Pokerstars, in connection with the TV broadcasting of the Australian Open in Europe. Eurosport, which has the broadcasting television rights for Europe is showing Betstars commercials in basically every break during and between the matches. Given William Hill’s success so far during the Aussie Open, it seems highly likely that Betstars sees a similar success.
In late December 2015, Amaya announced that its PokerStars brand has officially launched its new BetStars sports betting product via the domains Betstars.com, Betstars.eu and Betstars.uk, as well as iOS and Android apps. BetStars’ technology is supplied by UK software outfit Amelco, whose other clients include Betfair, William Hill and Mybet.
Amaya’s foray into the sports betting world saw PokerStars take its first wagers in Q1, while Amaya acquired the BetStars domains in November. That same month, Amaya announced it was delaying the rollout of “significant aspects” of its sportsbook in order to ensure the product was up to snuff before its official debut.
BetStars is offering wagers on 25 sports to start, in addition to an eSports product. Amaya says it will continue to expand the product range in 2016, including adding a horseracing option plus the debut of an “innovative new betting product” which it believes will distinguish its offering from that of its competition.
Amaya says BetStars will continue to expand into new markets throughout 2016, with the target of reaching half of PokerStars’ current customers by the end of the year. To help reach this goal, Amaya will launch an external customer acquisition campaign in H1.
In its Q3 earnings report, Amaya said its sports betting vertical had attracted just 100k unique active customers since its March launch and that revenue remained “negligible” despite significant growth (from a very low base) in Q3. The UK is the most hotly contested sports betting market on the planet but PokerStars appears to believe that it can compete if it can just convince a small slice of its poker customers not to venture off the site to place their wagers.