Australian gambling giant Tabcorp is reportedly negotiating an early exit from its joint venture obligation to Rupert Murdoch’s News UK publishing group in the Sun Bets UK sports betting project.
The Guardian newspaper reports that Tabcorp told around 60 UK-based staff that it is on the verge of ending the partnership, which began in 2016, a year early.
The Australian company voiced concerns about Sun Bets business performance last year, revealing that it was under review, In February, Tabcorp said Sun Bets’s performance was “unsatisfactory” after it made an operating loss of GBP 12.6 million in just six months and suffered one-off extra costs of more than GBP 28 million (see previous reports).
A Tabcorp spokesman told the Guardian that the company was “in discussions with News UK about a proposal to exit early its agreement to operate Sun Bets” but emphasised that plans had not been finalised.
The newspaper quotes unnamed sources who estimated that Tabcorp will likely have to pay News UK a break-up fee worth up to GBP 30 million to extricate itself early from the partnership. News UK is expected to seek a new partner to power its Sun Bets website.
A News UK spokesperson said: “The Sun is the number one newspaper website in the UK and we believe that this reach, and the power of its brand, still represent a great opportunity for readers to take a punt using Sun Bets. We will let customers know if there will be any change to the service.”