Sportingbet started the trend by purchasing No1 Betting Shop from Vanuatu and then moving them to Darwin, Paddy Power got into the act by snapping up Sportsbet and IAS, and then Centrebet started preening their feathers in public trying to woo as many prospective buyers as they could. Anecdotal evidence suggests that several other Australian firms are available to buy, as most of the original owners are approaching retirement age. BWin, William Hill, Ladbrokes, 888 and others were mentioned as prospective suitors for Centrebet but it all seems to have gone very quiet lately.
BWin have tied up with Party Gaming which should keep them busy plus neither are shy about attracting Australian customers despite laws against online casino and poker operations; William Hill's online division is 29% owned by Playtech, another company with fingers in many bingo, casino and poker pies which reach Australia either organically or by targetted marketing; Ladbrokes are still involved in the bid for Victoria's retail wagering licence and are burdened by a net debt of over £500m, although they do block Australian clients; 888 is too heavily involved in non-wagering activity not to be affected by the remit of the Interactive Gambling Act of 2001.
Add that to the mess of the latest Federal Election which left Australia with a minority government which will have great difficulty in getting any legislative bills at all through both houses, so getting the restrictions on gaming operations and in-running betting online removed are unlikely to happen in the immediate future, despite frim recommendations from the Productivity Commission. There are too many attention-grabbing independents wanting their five minutes of fame allegedly protecting the social fabric of Australia, but really only trying to justify their existence. And PM Julia Gillard has already pledged to start cutting back on the evil poker machines (slots) in pubs and clubs, so it's hardly a surprise that foreign investors might hold off for a few years before acquiring an Australian firm. The cost of compliance, lobbying and everything that goes with it might be too much in the interim, leaving the likes of Centrebet, BetChoice, BetStar and TopSport gathering dust on the shelf.