News Corp divests shares in Betr after four months amid regulatory challenges

Global media and entertainment conglomerate News Corp has sold its shares in Australian gambling startup Betr, marking the end of a short-lived partnership that spanned less than a year. This decision comes on the heels of Betr receiving a $133,000 (AUD210,000) fine from regulatory authorities in April.

Betr was established with significant financial backing, reportedly around $44.34 million (AUD70 million) from News Corp, as well as support from bookmaker Matthew Tripp’s TGW and Las Vegas-based firm Tekkorp. The startup aimed to leverage News Corp’s expansive media assets to promote its gambling services.

However, this week, Matthew Tripp, Chairman of Betr, told Australian Financial Review that News Corp was no longer an investor in the company. While News Corp no longer holds a financial stake in Betr, it will continue to feature Betr’s advertising in its publications, including the widely recognized Australian newspaper and the Daily Telegraph.

Launched with great fanfare and an aggressive promotional campaign in October 2022, Betr had initially been approached by several potential buyers. This interest arose after discussions regarding Betr’s potential acquisition of rival gambling company PointsBet fell through.

The record fine imposed on Betr by Liquor & Gaming NSW in April was the result of “significant breaches of the law” by the startup. Betr had enticed potential gamblers with 100-1 inducements to bet on sporting events through affiliated newspapers, radio, and television stations. These inducements raised concerns about their potential harm to the wider community.

Matthew Tripp, Chairman of Betr

Jane Lin, Executive Director of Liquor & Gaming NSW, stated at the time: “This company tried to attract a new customer base and establish a significant market share with promotions that we consider crossed the line, using inducements that had the potential to cause harm to the community.”

Subsequently, Betr terminated its inducement campaign after being approached by the NSW regulator with concerns. At the time, the company believed it had not violated any regulations.

Betr had also faced regulatory challenges prior to its official launch in October 2022, resulting in a fine of over $47,539 (AUD75,000) for “serious” breaches of the responsible gambling code. The Northern Territory Racing Commission accused Betr of failing to take responsibility for these breaches, designed to minimize harm related to gambling.

Notably, Betr had offered bettors exceptionally high returns on various sporting events, including the Melbourne Cup, the Cox Plate, and AFL and NRL matches. These inducements were designed to attract customers away from more established gambling companies.

Despite these challenges, Betr recently made headlines by paying out over $25.54 million (AUD40 million) in bets following Penrith’s NRL grand final win, a figure believed to be an Australian record. Matthew Tripp confirmed that Betr had successfully paid out these winnings, resulting in a clean balance sheet.

In recent months, News Corp had been distancing itself from Betr, with two of its executives resigning from Betr’s board. The rapid souring of the relationship led to speculation that News Corp had decided to discontinue its involvement with the startup.

Although News Corp has now sold its shares in Betr, the startup remains resolute in its commitment to growth and its pursuit of mergers and acquisitions in an increasingly competitive market. The termination of the partnership means that Betr will no longer receive financial support or assistance from News Corp in these endeavors.