In Australia, casino operator Crown Resorts Limited has announced that its CrownBet online sportsbetting service has signed a ten-year deal to serve as the official betting partner for Clubs NSW.

Sydney-listed Crown Resorts Limited is the firm behind land-based casinos including the Crown Casino And Entertainment Complex in Melbourne and Crown Perth as well as the coming $2 billion Crown Sydney and revealed that the agreement, which is effective immediately, will see it offer digital gambling services to some 1,200 clubs across the state of New South Wales with individual venues able to earn commissions from any in-house wagers.

Crown Resorts Limited overcame competition from rivals Sportsbet, the Totalisator Agency Board and Betting Club in securing the New South Wales deal after offering a higher commission structure for clubs along with a more beneficial rewards structure for members and explained that in-venue punters are to be incentivized via its CrownBet Rewards program, which allows bettors to accumulate points that can be exchanged for food and drink.

“We’re thrilled to receive this groundbreaking endorsement from Clubs NSW,” read a statement from Matt Tripp, Chief Executive Officer for CrownBet. “Our plan is to change the entire wagering experience for the benefit of its members and guests.”

The deal between Clubs NSW and Northern Territory-licensed CrownBet moreover marks the first time an Australian online betting provider has offered punters in the nation’s most populous state the ability to directly receive their winnings in cash as before they were forced to utilize an electronic money transfer to a personal bank account.

“Our arrangement with CrownBet will ensure all [Clubs NSW] clubs get their fair share from digital bets and will help ensure the industry’s long-term viability,” read a statement from Anthony Ball, Chief Executive Officer for ClubsNSW. “Small and regional clubs will be the biggest winners.”

However, the arrangement between Crown Resorts Limited, which has a market capitalization of around $5.74 billion and is controlled by principal shareholder James Packer, and Clubs NSW has not been welcomed by everyone and drew immediate criticism from long-time anti-gambling campaigner Nick Xenophon, who serves as a member for South Australia in the Australian Senate.

“This is good news for the clubs [but] bad news for punters,” Xenophon told The Guardian newspaper. “They’ll have even more opportunity to lose their shirts. It’s not enough to lose your shirts at Crown [Resorts Limited] casinos but you’ll now be able to lose them at clubs and pubs.”

Charles Livingstone, an academic and spokesperson for the Alliance For Gambling Reform, reportedly described the deal as “cynical opportunism” as it markets online wagering services to groups already vulnerable to problem gambling.

“There’s no good news here for people who may have a gambling problem,” Livingstone told The Guardian. “You could describe it as marketing cocaine to people who already have a heroin problem.”

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