Sportsbet punting pioneer Matthew Tripp set to take on his old company

Original source: The Sydney Morning Herald

YARRAWONGA businessman Matthew Tripp is poised to take a second stab at the fast-growing $13 billion online wagering market after paying less than $10 million for the assets of troubled operator Betezy.

Fresh from a non-compete clause that expired on March 1, after he sold Sportsbet to Irish wagering giant Paddy Power in 2011, Mr Tripp has quietly brought together the original Sportsbet investors to take on their old employer. After buying Sportsbet for $250,000 in 2005, Mr Tripp sold a stake in the online bookmaker to Paddy Power in 2009 and then the rest in 2011. All up, the Irish company paid $338 million.

The 39-year-old has wealth of $115 million, according to the latest BRW Young Rich list. It is understood his shopping spree is not quite over. A source said he intends to buy the assets of one or two other operators and consolidate activity under new brand Beteasy.

Industry sources had suggested that the investors bought Betezy, but a source close to the deal said the group had just acquired the customer database and domain name. Mr Tripp declined to comment on Wednesday.

Mr Tripp registered a new company, Beteasy, with the corporate regulator on Monday. Documents filed with the Australian Securities and Investments Commission show shareholders in the new venture include Phil Hannah, John McDonald, Grant Griffiths, Tom Carroll and Nick Tyshing, as well as members of the Tripp family. A number of the group were original Sportsbet investors and part of the 2005 founding management team. Most of them also served out a similar non-compete period as Mr Tripp.

Mr Tripp is yet to receive a new licence from regulators in the Northern Territory. Once this occurs he is expected to launch new operations under the Beteasy brand in May.

Betezy has had a chequered past and has come under investigation by the NT gaming regulator and the Australian Tax Office. Mr Tripp may have Sportsbet in his sights, but he may have more luck stealing market share from other operators, such as Tabcorp, Tatts Group and the William Hill-owned Sportingbet.

Paddy Power's full-year results, released on Tuesday night Dublin time, put Sportsbet as the fastest-growing online wagering operator by total bets.

Punters wagered €1.9 billion ($2.92 billion) with Sportsbet in 2013, up 12 per cent on the previous year.

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