ASX-listed betting technology supplier BetMakers has unveiled plans to conduct an on-market share buyback of up to 10% of the company’s total listed shares.

The buyback is expected to commence on 12 July and will be funded from BetMakers’ existing cash reserves.

The buyback will be conducted under the Australian Corporations Act’s “10/12 limit”, which allows businesses to buy back up to 10% of the smallest number of shares issued at any time during the last 12 months, without shareholder approval.

“We continue to take a disciplined approach to capital allocation, discerning between opportunities to invest for future growth, and we are constantly looking at methods of returning value to shareholders both organically and inorganically,” said BetMakers CEO Todd Buckingham.

“As a business we have signed and announced deals that we believe will give the company strong organic growth in FY23 and we expect this momentum to continue.

“BetMakers is in a strong financial position with our improving cash flow and with current market dynamics providing us with an opportunity to maximise shareholder value via a buyback,” Buckingham concluded.

BetMakers CEO Todd Buckingham: “BetMakers is in a strong financial position with our improving cash flow and with current market dynamics providing us with an opportunity to maximise shareholder value via a buyback.”

There are currently 903.5 million shares issued in BetMakers, meaning the business will be able to buy back upwards of 90 million shares. At the firm’s current share price of A$0.38, the total buyback could be worth as much as A$34.3m.

BetMakers shares have traded as high as A$0.78 this year, before the price began to decline rapidly from an April peak. The stock’s 52-week high saw shares trade as high as A$1.42 during 2021.

The April rally in BetMakers’ share price was likely helped by the announcement of an agreement between the operator and media giant News Corp to launch a new Australian sports betting operator.

BetMakers was selected as the technology partner of the new venture, which will be backed by a consortium of investors associated with Australian bookmaking legend Matthew Tripp, as well as Las Vegas-based online gambling investment fund Tekkorp Capital. Tekkorp is also a major shareholder in BetMakers.

The 10-year exclusive agreement with News Corp’s new venture could bring the company upwards of A$300m in revenue, it said.

PointsBet has rebuffed an offer of more than A$220m from Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation for its Australian betting operation, according to the Sydney Morning Herald.

The newspaper said the bid was rejected by the PointsBet board nearly two weeks ago and never made it to a shareholder vote.

News Corp has already joined forces with an investment consortium led by bookmaking legend Matthew Tripp to launch a new sports betting operation in Australia in collaboration with technology partner BetMakers.

The acquisition of PointsBet’s Australia business would have given it access to a large and engaged customer base, as well as instant market share and proprietary trading technology.

A potential deal could also make strategic sense for PointsBet, which despite being ASX-listed and founded in Australia, is primarily focused on the North American sports betting market.

However, the News Corp offer, believed to be somewhere between A$220m and A$300m, was not enough to persuade non-executive chairman Brett Paton and the rest of the PointsBet board to sell up.

PointsBet may now instead find itself in direct competition with News Corp’s soon-to-be-launched bookmaking operation in Australia, which still does not have a name.

Former BetEasy boss Andrew Menz has been appointed as the new chief executive of the News Corp venture, while head Andrew Catterall will take over as the new CEO of PointsBet’s Australian business from 4 July 2022.

News Corp is already actively engaged in gambling and sports betting in both Australia and the US.

It owns the Fox Bet brand in America and has the potential to acquire a significant stake in Flutter-owned market leader FanDuel via its Fox Corp subsidiary, although the two companies are currently locked in arbitration over the price of that stake.

Despite being competitors, both companies may need to join forces to lobby against potential tax hikes for Australia’s international online gambling operators.

Land-based venues have come together with anti-gambling campaigners and domestic gambling giant Tabcorp to demand a tax rise in the state of Victoria.

According to WA Today, Australian bookmakers will pressure Treasurer Tim Pallas to increase the point of consumption tax for companies such as Sportsbet, which is based in Ireland as part of Flutter, and Ladbrokes, which falls under the umbrella of Entain and is based on the Isle of Man.

The tax rate in Victoria is currently 10% and occurs on bets at the time they are placed.

Victoria and New South Wales boast the country’s lowest rate at 10%, while South Australia, Western Australia, Queensland and the Australian Capital Territory take 15%.

PointsBet declined to comment on the story when contacted by iGaming NEXT. 

News Corp has joined forces with a consortium led by bookmaking legend Matthew Tripp to launch a new sports betting operation in Australia.

The Murdoch-owned media giant is already involved with sports betting in the US via Fox Bet, although it is currently locked in a legal dispute with joint owner Flutter Entertainment.

The company has been exploring Australian betting launch options for more than a year and has now settled on a partnership with a group of investors associated with Tripp and Las Vegas-based online gambling investment fund Tekkorp Capital.

Tripp is arguably Australia’s most successful bookmaker, having built Sportsbet into the country’s second largest operator before launching BetEasy in 2014.

He then sold BetEasy to The Stars Group in 2019 for A$151m and it remains a leading brand in the wider Flutter Entertainment portfolio today.

Tekkorp on the other hand is an investment fund and strategic advisory founded by Matt Davey, who advised on this transaction and has pledged to invest significantly.

Industry veteran Robin Chhabra is the president of Tekkorp Capital. He was the founding CEO of Fox Bet and is also a former board director at BetEasy.

Chhabra said: “The Australian online sports betting market has been booming but is ripe for innovation and competition. This consortium has the mix of skills, experience and capital to become a significant player.”

Tekkorp Capital president Robin Chhabra: “The Australian online sports betting market has been booming but is ripe for innovation and competition.”

Australian technology supplier BetMakers is one company that Tekkorp Capital has invested in.

In fact, Davey is the company’s largest shareholder with a 13% stake, while Tripp made a $25m investment in BetMakers in February of last year and joined as a strategic adviser.

BetMakers has struck a deal to supply the technology to the new News Corp betting venture, which has a current working title of BetR, according to the Wall Street Journal.

BetMakers’ share price shot up 21% on the news it would be powering the venture, in a 10-year exclusive agreement that could bring the company more than $300m of revenue.

The Sydney Morning Herald expects former BetEasy chief executive Andrew Menz to be appointed as CEO of the soon-to-be-launched betting venture.

News Corp is expected to leverage its vast portfolio of media assets to promote the operator, which includes the Herald Sun, Daily Telegraph, and pay TV provider Foxtel.