Waterhouse bets on making a profit

The telegenic Tom Waterhouse vowed in May that we would be seeing less of him on television following the controversy created by his spruiking of live odds across our most popular sports.

The telegenic Tom Waterhouse vowed in May that we would be seeing less of him on television following the controversy created by his spruiking of live odds across our most popular sports.

It now appears he has fresh incentive to carry through on that pledge.

Waterhouse may be forced to curb his marketing arsenal due to a more recent vow - to make a profit.

This follows the sale of his business in August to British bookie William Hill for a modest $30 million up front, with a further $70 million dependent on the company turning a significant profit by the end of 2015.

Massive marketing spend by Waterhouse to date means the business is expected to lose more than $3 million this year on a customer base of 75,000, according to William Hill.

It could have been worse.

British rival, Bet365, might be rethinking its spend after losing more than $36 million in its first year of operations here, which included a marketing campaign featuring Hollywood star Samuel L. Jackson.

Bet365 gained 40,000 customers and revenue of just $7.7 million.

For Waterhouse to receive some, or all, of the $70 million rump payment, the business needs to generate an operating profit on a sliding scale between $10million and $30 million for the year ending December 31, 2015.

Waterhouse said it was still important for the company to market aggressively and get a "share of voice" as it looks to entice punters away from TAB outlets to its online betting shop. While he said he would continue to use TV to advertise: "I don't know if we will necessarily go as much on TV."

The early signs of retreat are already there to be seen.

The Waterhouse brand will no longer be plastered all over Nine's NRL coverage from next year, with Sportsbet - owned by Irish betting shop Paddy Power - paying a reported $40 million to replace him as Nine's official partner.

Sportsbet would not confirm the deal but said sanity was returning to pricing for sport broadcast sponsorships.

"The prices that were being paid were crazy," said Sportsbet executive Barni Evans.

"Some of the price inflation was driven by hyper competition for a small number of premium assets in the marketplace and Tom Waterhouse was at the centre of that."

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