Murdoch’s betting play is about to fall apart

In January, however, Lachlan had to throw in the towel on the Fox-News merger idea, which meant the whole international Fox Bet plan was toast, and overnight News Corp’s risk appetite for Betr disappeared.

As this paper reported in February, News reported a $US33 million equity loss from affiliates in the December half year, most of it from the investment in Betr. That $US33 million figure is after tax, of course. That makes the pre-tax loss in Aussie dollars around $70 million, with a further $US10 million loss from equity affiliates in the March quarter. News Corp has well and truly lost its shirt on the gee-gees.

Of course losing money doesn’t mean that betting platforms aren’t worth anything. Fox emerged from last November’s mediation tussle with UK giant Flutter Entertainment with confirmation that it has a valid 10-year option to buy 18.6 per cent of Flutter’s FanDuel, which claims to have half the US online betting market. FanDuel is yet to break even, but the sliding option deal currently values it at $US22 billion.

But it was Fox Bet that was to be Lachlan’s big play. While he was keen to use Fox Sports coverage as a springboard to build a sports betting platform, he didn’t want Fox to run it. Instead, in 2018 he did a deal with The Stars Group (TSG) to run Fox Bet as a joint venture.

Months later Flutter bought TSG and inherited control of Fox Bet. Fox claims Flutter starved Fox Bet of funds, favouring FanDuel instead – a claim which the Judicial Arbitration and Mediation Services decision in November rejected.

Critics say Fox Bet’s technology is clunky. It is rolled out in just four states and has less than 1 per cent of the US market.


So, it’s decision time. In August, Flutter can walk away from the Fox Bet joint venture, which means either Fox steps up with its own funding and organisation to run it, or Fox Bet gets canned.

It’s a tough decision, given all the personal capital the Murdoch scion has invested in the idea of building a betting empire. That’s all about to fall apart, unless he doubles down. Suppose he has to ask himself: Do I feel lucky?


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