Aussie betting giants are involved in a legal dispute after Sportsbet sued Crownbet over the latter's decision to rebrand as a similarly-named Sportingbet.
Crownbet has caused quite a noise in the Australian betting market after the sports betting company announced its plans to change its corporate image. Reports surfaced that the Aussie bookmaker intends to rebrand to Sportingbet. However, rival sportsbook Sportsbet will challenge the move in court, claiming that the similarity of its name and the new brand can confuse the Aussie punters.
Documents from the country’s intellectual property offices show that Crownbet already applied to secure trademark rights for the Sportingbet brand last May. A month later, the company filed its application in the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) to register the name Sportingbet Pty Ltd.
However, Sportsbet objects to Crownbet’s decision to rebrand. Sportsbet has filed a statement of claim seeking a temporary and permanent injunction to prevent Crownbet from operating under the Sportingbet brand, in addition to damages and costs incurred by the dispute. In the lawsuit, Sportsbet claims that its name and the brand Sportingbet are confusingly similar with each other. According to the claim, the public could get the wrong impression that Sportingbet is in any way related to Sportsbet.
The rebrand comes after Crownbet acquired William Hill’s Australian business for a reported US$244 million last March. In 2013, William Hill entered the Australian market by purchasing the original Sportingbet business founded and once owned by Alan Tripp. Interestingly, Tripp’s son—Matthew—currently sits as Crownbet’s CEO. It is also worth noting that the younger Tripp sat as the CEO of rival Sportsbet for eight years after buying the then-small sportsbook in 2005.
The case is scheduled to be heard on July 25 before Justice Barry Beach.
Too Many Sportsbets
Observers were quick to point out that the suit Sportsbet filed is just to prevent a profitable business move of its rival. After all, they said, Sportsbet lost a bidding war against Crownbet for William Hill’s Aussie arm.
Meanwhile, local punters observed that other online betting sites carrying names exactly similar to the Australian sportsbook exist. A quick browse on search engine Google would reveal at least three more online sports betting sites using brands very similar to the Sportsbet name. One is Sportsbet.co.za, a site catering to South African punters. Another is Sportbet.com, a bookie bundled with online casino games.
However, one site is most notable among others. Sportsbet.io is unlike any other Sportsbet-named sports betting site as it dedicates itself to cryptocurrency. After all, this online sportsbook transacts exclusively through Bitcoins. Even so, the site offers odds for the usual games also offered on famous sports betting sites. But while it has a similar brand to its Aussie namesake, Sportsbet.io restricts Australia-based bettors from joining the site.
A Sportsbook Rivalry
The dispute between Crownbet and Sportsbet is one of the many instances both sportsbooks butted heads with each other while competing in the second-largest regulated sports betting market in the world. Both sportsbooks are considered as two of the largest in Australia.
The two bookies have faced off in sponsoring Australia rules football content. In 2017, Crownbet served as the official wagering partner of the Australian Football League. At the same time, Sportsbet became the betting sponsor of television network Seven West Media. Sportsbet ads aired on Seven’s subscription channels while Crownbet’s appeared on both Seven’s free-to-air channels and football subscription channel Fox Footy.
In terms of Australian market share, Sportsbet is ahead of the race against Crownbet. The former, backed by funds from Irish giant Paddy Power, recorded a market share of 26 percent, while the latter—combined with the recently bought William Hill business—recorded only 17 percent. However, both lag behind wagering and gaming operator Tabcorp’s 33 percent.
Some of the Aussie sports bettors could not care less about the ongoing dispute between two of their local bookies. They pointed out that Sportsbet and the first iteration of Sportingbet have coexisted in the same market before without legal bodies stopping one from operating in favor of the other. With that fact in mind, casual observers predict that Sportingbet will be reborn and the Australian betting market will be more competitive than ever before.