Australia's Waterhouse sells gambling firm to William Hill
An online gambling business founded by the son of Australian racing icon Gai Waterhouse was snapped up by Britain's William Hill Friday for at least Aus$34 million (US$31 million).
Tom Waterhouse's eponymous online gambling firm, established just three years ago, was purchased by the world's largest betting company by market value in a deal that could be worth more than Aus$100 million, contingent on future earnings.
William Hill paid Waterhouse, the son of renowned Australian horse trainer Gai and her ex-bookmaker husband Robbie Waterhouse, Aus$34 million up front.
There is an option to pay Aus$70 million more if the site performs well through to the end of 2015.
"They're market leaders in the world and to be able to join with them and really go for it here in Australia is just incredible," Waterhouse told Sky News.
"They're the best in the world, they've got the tradition, the heritage and they're clueing in online... you can't find a better partner, it's so exciting."
It is the British firm's second major purchase in Australia this year, having paid Aus$660 million for Sportingbet in March.
William Hill already owns Centrebet in Australia, a country which is home to some 115,000 problem gamblers -- 0.5 percent of the population.
"We look at the Australian market as a stable market, it's a mature market, and it's an exciting market to be in," said William Hill chief Ralph Topping.
"The best bookmakers in the world are Australians."
Waterhouse has courted controversy in his home country with the very aggressive marketing of his site, and his personal provision of live odds during rugby league games as a commentator.
The government earlier this year announced a ban on the broadcast of live odds during sports matches. It has since prohibited representatives of gambling companies from appearing with network commentary teams.
Gai Waterhouse trains Carlton House for Britain's Queen Elizabeth II.
© 2013 AFP