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Centrebet Stadium Done Deal; Sports Nuts And Punters Rejoice; Attack Gaming Haters...

Centrebet has buried and put the hurt on critics of its media and public heat seeker naming-rights stadium deal with Penrith Panthers, stating on the record that the the anti-gambling lobby were "like cracked records" in opposing it's newest deal. Off the the record it called them a host of unspeakables! The clubs' name change to Centrebet Stadium Penrith was announced by the Panthers just yesterday after the sponsorship rumours were first announced by Fairfax Media, creating a title wave of coverage across the globe. It's a 5-year deal, worth more than $1.5 million bucks, making the western Sydney sports ground the first down under to adopt the name of a bookie. Anti-gambling campaigner Senator Nick Xenophon last week was pissed at the NRL for permitting the Panthers to make the name change, criticism that bit 'Mr X' (satire nick name from MM) back from Centrebet when confirmation came yesterday. Get ready for this punters. You might like the 2 cents directed at the gaming and casino haters... the thought police. "The 'anti brigade' are becoming like cracked records," Centrebet boss Neil Evans said. "Why don't they survey the blokes walking into the ground, down at the shopping mall, on the building sites, and in the pubs and see what they think? My attitude is...reality is reality. And business is business. I congratulate the Panthers board and the Penrith City Council on their forthrightness and strong-minded stance. Most clubs, especially those hardly flushed with cash, would dream about a 5-year ground deal worth around $1.5 million, and that's before we start talking about the spin-off effects for the community and all the hard-working people in and around the club." Media Man did a spot survey around the eastern suburbs of Sydney and a spokesperson said "About 90% of people in the community are fine with gambling, gaming and sports betting. They know a small percentage can get into trouble, but for many Aussies is a strong tradition and a way of live. You know, the Melbourne Cup, Two-Up, having a game of poker with your mates, or throwing a couple of bucks down the throat of a pokie just to try your luck. Most level headed people, the non extremists, see the merit in the Centrebet deal, and we understand that now the likes of PartyGaming, Betfair and others will be exploring possibilities for their firms, which might just help save the NRL for massive financial stress. It looks like a win - win win". The Federal Minister for Sport, Mark Arbib, is working diligently with reps of Australia's 7 major sporting codes on ways to wipe out match-fixing but said the Panthers' stadium deal was not a concern. A report compiled by a working party commissioned by the the Coalition of Major Professional Sports is set to be out by next month. "Sponsorship of sporting codes and stadiums is a matter for the individual stadium owners and sporting organisations. The NRL have advised the government that the sponsorship agreement between the Panthers and Centrebet meets its own gambling and sponsorship guidelines. The select council on gambling reform led by Minister (Jenny) Macklin has put the regulation of online gambling in their forward work agenda. And as sports minister I'm working with the sporting codes, including the NRL, on the issue of match-fixing and integrity in sport." Centrebet currently has sponsorships with 4 other clubs in the National Rugby League, which forces all betting agencies associated with the game to sign integrity agreements. The stadium sponsorship was called as a great boon for Penrith by the football club's chief executive, Michael Leary. "Centrebet has been a responsible corporate partner of the Panthers since coming on board with the club in 2010. Our stadium has become a centre of excellence by not only hosting high-level rugby league in the national competition but through its ability to be community-centric in accommodating several community organisations. Centbet, The Footy Show sponsored corner on Network Nine's 'The Footy show', now Centrebet Stadium, next The World. Spies continue to tell us that PartyGaming, Betfair and others are circling the wagons and won't be taking it lying down. Punters, get ready for another round of Australian gambling wars. This week: Gambling lovers and punters 1 - haters - Nil!

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Australia To Get Sports Stadiums Branded By Gambling and Gaming Companies, by Greg Tingle - 15th January 2011

G'day punters, journos, high rollers, sports news, entertainment news junkies, politicians, insiders, outsiders... one and all. Today we probe the situation where a number of Australian sports grounds could soon be named after gaming and gambling companies. How do like the sound of Betfair Stadium, Centrebet Park and PartyGaming Cricket Ground? Don't laugh, this type of scenario is on the cards, with local gaming brands likely the first to pounce, followed by international powerhouses. Media Man http://www.mediamanint.com and Gambling911 with another ground breaking news report from the land of world class casino, media companies and sports arenas...

Australia Will Get Gambling Arenas; Aussie Aussie Aussie; Oi Oi Oi...

With Australia being in the world's top 10 gambling nations, it shouldn't shock or surprise that we're tipped to soon have a number of sporting arenas and grounds named after gambling and gaming companies, both national and international brands. Yep, money will talk where B.S sometimes walks.

James Packer's Betfair is understood to build upon their Betfair Park branding, Europe's PartyGaming is keen, and currently Centrebet looks to be leading the charge, with many insiders saying its a case of when, not if, for the household name brand.

Centrebet already has significant branding, thanks in part to a swag of TV and online adverts, plus who can forget the Centrebet branded part of Network Nine's 'The Footy Show'.

The gambling companies already have a number of key targets, and many cash strapped and / or cash handy NRL team and home grounds are near the top of the hit list.

For instance NRL team, The Penrith Panthers, are seriously considering having their home stadium named Centrebet Stadium. We kid you not punters.

If the deal goes through, they will make history becoming the first major Australian sporting team to snatch a betting firm as the naming-rights partner for a playing venue.

Horse Racing already has some naming rights deals with tracks and in the mix such as Betfair Park and then you have races named after gambling brands such as the Lasseters Cup, Lasseters known for its hotel - casino up in Australia's top end.

The forecast Betfair deal comes as a police continue to probe the NRL gambling scandal that from last season following a number of "irregular" wagers was picked up in the Canterbury Bulldogs VS North Queensland Cowboys match up.

The Panthers, Centrebet and a swag of gambling companies, have rather pissed off the gambling and gaming haters, who continues to get organised into lobby groups.

A Media Man spokesperson such "Many people in and out of news media and gaming, the general public, are starting to get really pissed off at the gaming, gambling and sports betting haters. The bible bashers. Who do they think they are trying to push their beliefs onto others. Many Australians just love a punt, and that's the way it is. Some of the gaming haters have strong ties to church groups and there appears to be some sort of brainwashing system going on. They keep discussing the 'evils of gambling'. I mean, seriously, come on. People know not to over-do it on on the slots, sports events, poker and the like, but the haters keep trying to be the thought police. Gambling companies in Australia have a very high focus on responsible gambling with warnings everywhere. It's great to see the gambling and gaming industry place so much focus on safe better. The sports stadiums will be great for business, , but no one is forcing anyone to have a bet. It's a personal decision, as it always has been. 2011 is going to be a very exciting year for punters, especially those who like to have a bet of sports matches, and television and online website portals and brands will bring it all together nicely".

Back to the first prime target #1...The modest 22,500-capacity sports ground, owned by Penrith City Council, was in a past life known as CUA Stadium. What's up is that the club's contract with the Brisbane financial services company has expired, and negotiations between Panthers, the footy club and Centrebet have been taking place, even prior to Christmas about renaming the stadium. Other clubs and stadiums have also caught the buzz and are opening chequebooks and crunching the numbers.

The first of its kind business agreement between the club and Centrebet is just about a done deal, and ink is expecting to try on contracts sooner rather than later, possibly within a fortnight. An exciting, if not controversial type of announcement is fully expected by the Panthers in the coming week. Sports and gambling commentators are quick to point out that Penrith already has ties to Centrebet, the gambling brand being lit up across the top of the video screen at the stadium. This kind of exposure has also been very good for their mobile - hand held device sector.

Anti-gambling campaigner Senator Nick Xenophon is especially unhappy with the development of the gambling branded sports stadiums in Australia. He went on recent with:

"How can a footy code currently embroiled in a betting scandal possibly allow a stadium to be named after a betting agency? There was a time when rugby league was all about the game. Now it's all about the odds, and that is ruining the game".

Over the last couple of years the NRL (and AFL) has watered down its laws and regulations relating to clubs' deals and partnerships with gambling - sports betting firms, allowing them to be branded on footy jerseys for a virgin time. Cronulla Sharks have sponsor PokerStars (.net) on their jersey sleeves while cashed up Manly Sea Eagles are tipped to have Centrebet's signage on the back of their jerseys this season after a widely reported $1 million plus deal with the Northern Territory based betting outfit announced just before Christmas. Yep, it looks like a few clubs and stadiums will be getting their Christmas presents and will have lots to celebrate, while the gambling haters will be spewing in Grinch like fashion.

The National Rugby League of course also has corporate ties with TAB Sportsbet, and is understood to snatch a 5% "product fee" via the company's rugby league betting profit.

NRL spokesman John Brady advised he would not comment on individual clubs' sponsorship agreements but maintained there was no concern about the prospect of gambling agencies assuming naming rights for the game's venues, at least from his take on the situation.

"It's an area that was relaxed last year. As such there are a number of betting sponsorships that are available to clubs in terms of jerseys and other opportunities," Brady said.

He advised any and all betting firms involved with the NRL via sponsorship of clubs were made to sign "integrity agreements" to ensure transparency.

The majority of NRL clubs now have corporate deals with betting agencies. Centrebet sponsors five teams: Penrith, Manly, Parramatta, St George Illawarra and North Queensland. "Comon' Betfair and PartyGaming, pull you're finger out", a Media Man sports journalist was overheard shouting when he found out the news of Centrebet's ongoing infiltration of the sport.

Penrith's stadium pending name change has been intertwined we understand by some to the financial problems that have hit the football club's parent body, Panthers Group.

The licensed club is no longer quite the licence to print money as it was in the 90s Some audited figures about to do public by the conclusion of the month are expected to show black and white confirmation of a Murdoch - News Limited news story of last February that said Panthers were due to report a rather embarrassing net loss of $11 million bucks.

Panthers are not afraid to speak on the record about their on and off field performance, which has seen better days.

Ric Simpson, Panthers Group chief exec since last July, said a culture change and "renewal of process" across Panthers clubs had improved their situation. Analysts question that was a PR line or absolute truth. Mind you, we don't blame club for trying to focus on positives. "We're probably looking at reducing that loss by somewhere in the order of $8-$9 million," Simpson said.

A Media Man spokesperson said "At this stage of the gaming the overseas trend of seeing sports groups and football teams pick up sponsorship and strong branding for gambling, gaming... sports betting companies looks to be moving full speed ahead down under in Australia. Centrebet might become the Bwin of Australia. PartyGaming is said to be currently crunching numbers to see if an Australian sports ground deal is viable. They already have a Aussie Millions former champion sponsored by their poker brand and a couple of Aussie poker players signed up, so anything is possible. James Packer's Betfair, a direct competitor of Centrebet is not likely to take the situation lying down either. Betfair is 50% Packer owned and wants to keep building their sports betting brand, as well as opening up many online casino games in Australia, poker and more. Could an Australian sports stadium ever be known as PartyGaming stadium or WPT Stadium? Not overnight, but never say never, stranger things have happened. It's all going to add a lot of money into the game and business of sport and entertainment, and already our firm is starting to experience some positive spin off benefits. It's all very exciting and profitable".

Centrebet Racing

Centrebet is an Australian bookmaker licensed in the Northern Territory.

Centrebet originated from Alice Springs, Northern Territory and was the first bookmaker to be licensed in Australia in 1993 and the first bookmaker to go online in the Southern Hemisphere. Centrebet was acquired by its biggest domestic rival, the SportOdds Group in 2003 for the sum of AUD$46.55 million. In 2005, SportOdds merged its Centrebet, SportOdds.com and SuperOdds.co.uk businesses into one entity, known as Centrebet.

Con Kafataris is the CEO of the company while Peter Foot acts as chief bookmaker.

Centrebet is the second largest private bookmaking company in Australia (Sportsbet is the largest) and one of the biggest bookmakers in the world, with betting across all sports (both within and outside of Australia), horse racing and other events, including Australian elections and television shows. The Centrebet Group offers over 4000 individual betting options every week.

The Centrebet Group has recently commenced expansion of its core operations to include online gaming, including poker and casino. However, due to Australia's Interactive Gambling Act 2001, the Group are not permitted to offer gaming products to Australians. In 2006, the company listed on the Australian Stock Exchange.

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Centrebet flags strong profit growth, by Teresa Oo - 8th July 2009
(Credit: The Australian)

 

CENTREBET has flagged strong profit growth next year, as it takes a bigger share of the country's online wagering revenue.

"Centrebet is well positioned to deliver strong profit growth in the 2010 financial year, supported by continued growth in the Australian market, a rationalised cost base and marketing investment adjusted to reflect the change in industry dynamics," deputy managing director Michael McRitchie said.

The company also confirmed full-year profit guidance for 2008-09 at the upper end of its April forecast of between $10 million and $11 million.

In February, Centrebet said it was on track to deliver a full-year profit of $14.3m, but two months later it downgraded this forecast by 30 per cent.

The company was stung by an $800,000 bad debt from one of its customers, former Billabong chief executive Matthew Perrin, who filed for bankruptcy in March.

Mr McRitchie said deregulation had forced Centrebet to spend more on marketing, reducing profits.

"Centrebet has now completed an extensive cost rationalisation process to mitigate the cost impact of industry changes and refocus on key priority markets -- total annualised saving of over $2m is expected on a pre-tax basis," he said.

The company has trimmed costs and cut staff numbers by 15 per cent, resulting in 34 job losses.

Managing director Con Kafataris said: "While deregulation of the industry has presented some short-term cost challenges, it has created an attractive outlook for Centrebet to grow market share.

"We expect the overall industry to show strong growth over the medium term and Centrebet is well positioned to maximise our share of the growth through customer-focused product offerings, targeted marketing investment and disciplined risk and cost management."

In February, Centrebet made a $22m offer for International All Sports but was rebuffed. Darwin-based Sportsbet and its parent, Irish betting group Paddy Power, have since made a takeover bid for IAS.

Based on unaudited accounts, Centrebet said its total revenue had risen 6 per cent to $66.2m, driven by growth in the Australian online wagering market.

Australian online revenue rose 23 per cent to $32.9m -- 50 per cent of total revenue. Its on-course revenue fell 31 per cent to $3.3 million, which only made up 5 per cent of revenue.

European revenue, excluding poker, remained flat at $26.1m. European poker revenue decreased 17 per cent to $3.8m.

Centrebet's successful launch of its fixed odds management contracts with West Australian, ACT and Tasmanian TABs was a "positive start".

The company would manage more than $200m a year in fixed costs betting turnover on behalf of the TABs.

Centrebet's share price rose 3c yesterday to close at 93c.

 

 

Centrebet has good odds on recession - 16th December 2008
(Credit: The Sydney Morning Herald)

 

Not all economists would punt on Australia falling into recession, but betting agency Centrebet is offering good odds on the economy bottoming out.

The bookmaker has Australia a $1.12 favourite to fall into recession in the next 12 months and $5.50 if it is avoided.

Centrebet media chief Neil Evans said the effects of the production meltdown in industries such as car manufacturing had yet to hit Australia's economy.

"The global financial downturn has not even gone close to bottoming out through Australia's economy," Mr Evans said in a statement on Tuesday.

"Allowing for fearful retail and wholesale forecasts through the Christmas-New Year period, it will be a miracle if Australia avoids recession."

Economic forecasts from JP Morgan and Citigroup both predict Australia will suffer a technical recession - face two quarters of negative economic growth in early 2009.

Other economists predict the economy will be flat, avoiding recession through measures like the federal government's economic stimulus package and cuts in interest rates.

Earlier this month, the Australian Business Economists executive committee, including economists from Westpac, nabCapital and Reserve Bank of Australia, placed the chance of recession at 40 per cent.

Centrebet has also released its latest market for the Reserve Bank's next interest rates decision, with a 75 basis point rate cut the favourite at $2.35, ahead of a 50 basis point cut at $2.40, and 100 basis point drop at $3.50.

 

 

Chris Munce market pulled in bid to ease tension, by Brendan Cormick - 12th December 2008
(Credit: The Australian)

A Northern Territory betting outlet was yesterday asked to withdraw a market framed on the return to race riding of convicted jockey Chris Munce because it threatened to inflame the strained relationship between Hong Kong and Racing NSW further.

Corporate bookmaker Centrebet prepared to bet $5.50 about the Melbourne Cup-winning jockey riding a winner and making a fairytale return to the racetrack at Randwick's Kensington course today. Punters could take $1.15 about Munce going winless on his first day back at the "office".

"The (Northern Territory) Government stepped in and put an end to the market before it had a chance to see the light of day," said the source, who did not wish to be identified. "The authorities felt it was too sensitive, given all the tension between NSW and Hong Kong."

Centrebet considered Sheezvalue, in the fifth race, the best of Munce's rides. His book of mounts was reduced to two yesterday when trainer David Hayes withdrew Swoop And Destroy from the opening event on the twilight card.

Munce's clearance by Racing NSW will be a topic of discussion at the Australian Racing Board's monthly meeting this morning in Sydney.

Racing NSW elected not to acknowledge a 30-month disqualification, handed down by the Hong Kong Jockey Club this month. Backdated to March 1, 2007 and still with 10 months to run, the disqualification would normally have been routinely endorsed in Australia.