Australia’s newest betting agency Betr launched in a flurry of hype and controversy just weeks before the Melbourne Cup.
Desperate to grab market share from rivals TAB and Sportsbet, it took an outrageous risk offering 100-1 odds on every horse, even hot favourite Deauville Legend.
Gold Trip’s storming victory on Tuesday meant the NewsCorp- backed firm dodged a disastrous $50 million payout, but not everyone is happy with the stunt.
Betr is now facing fines from the gambling regulator and the wrath of furious punters who claim their accounts were deactivated so they couldn’t collect their winnings.
But no one who wants to see the upstart agency fail should bet against its man at the helm – arguably Australia’s most successful betting pioneer, Matthew Tripp.
Matthew Tripp (pictured with his family) is the founder of Australia’s newest betting agency, Betr
Desperate to grab market share from rivals TAB and Sportsbet, it took a huge risk offering 100-1 odds on every horse, even hot favourite Deauville Legend
Mr Tripp, 47, bought a near-bankrupt Sportsbet for just $250,000 in 2005 and sold it to Irish betting giant Paddy Power for $388 million just six years later.
He then snapped up BetEasy for $6 million and sold it twice, first with a 66 per cent stake to James Packer’s Crown in 2014 and then to The Stars Group in 2019.
When Mr Tripp took it on, the company had just 20,000 punters signed up. When TSG snapped it up, it was valued at $1.255 billion and Mr Tripp walked away with $94.5 million for his last stake alone.
Despite being a diehard AFL fan, he weeks later became executive chairman of the Melbourne Storm NRL team, in which he had long owned a 12.5 per cent stake.
But his close friend professional gambler Zeljko Ranogajec revealed meticulously studying betting odds isn’t the only secret to his method.
‘He is superstitious and always wears his underpants inside out and insists on double-strength toilet paper and a bottle of water near his bed,’ he wrote in his book.
Making noise with a huge risk like Betr’s Melbourne Cup stunt is nothing new to its hard-charging founder, who wagered $1 million on Hawthorn to win the 2008 AFL Grand Final – and won.
Adding to a year of high emotions was the death of Mr Tripp’s daughter Isabella aged just 14 after a battle with leukemia. The family is pictured on holiday on a boat on the River Nile
In the 2022 Melbourne Cup, Gold Trip stormed home at Flemington to win
Betr was so worried about paying out on Deauville Legend that it hedged millions with other bookmakers and offered punters $150 to cancel their bets.
But after Gold Trip crossed the line, Mr Tripp was hailing the launch as a masterstroke and one of the most successful of all time.
‘It’s been literally the talk of every pub and bar in the country,’ he said after 300,000 punters signed up in just two weeks.
Adding to a year of high emotions was the death in April of Mr Tripp’s daughter Isabella in April, aged just 14, after a battle with leukemia.
Despite his high-flying life running billion-dollar betting agencies and sport teams, Mr Tripp finds time to go on exotic holidays with his wife Yasmina, son Alex, and daughters Matti and Bella, before her death.
Family photos show them boating on the River Nile and posing with Millie Mouse at Disneyland.
Despite his high-flying life running billion-dollar betting agencies and sport teams, Mr Tripp finds time to go on exotic holidays with his family. Pictured is his daughter Isabella and wife Yasmina with Minnie Mouse at Disneyland
Mr Tripp with his son and eldest child Alex Tripp
Mr Tripp was brought into the gambling world by family, too.
His father Alan Tripp was a legendary bookmaker claimed to be ‘the most convicted in Australia’ during the 1980s and 90s crackdown on the then-illegal industry.
In those days, the TAB was a collection of state government-owned monopolies and private start-price bookie were illegal.
As the country’s biggest, he was public enemy number one of police vice squads in NSW, Victoria, and the ACT and arrested numerous times.
He was famously raided in 1992 when ACT Police discovered he was running a betting operation from the luxury Hyatt Hotel in Canberra.
Despite this, he kept running his very profitable enterprise with high-rolling clients ranging from the cream of Australian society to notorious gangsters.
They included media mogul Kerry Packer and underworld figures like Lewis Moran and Alphonse Gangitano, and Mick Gatto made famous by TV series Underbelly.
Gatto is said to have once summoned Tripp Sr to Melbourne restaurant Pellegrini’s and in the kitchen told the bookie that gambler Harry Kakavas had been speaking ill of him and he wished to mediate it.
Tripp took $5,000 out of his pocket and handed it to Gatto as a thank you after the controversial businessman set Kakavas straight.
Keen gambler and former prime minister Bob Hawke also became a close family friend after they met through Coburg Football Club during the 1980s when they were all club committee members and sponsors.
The politician often bet enough to keep Alan Tripp afloat in hard times and they once shared a pizza and drained a $2,000 bottle of Penfolds Grange Hermitage at Mr Hawke’s home.
Alan Tripp eventually moved to the Pacific island of Vanuatu, where sport betting was legal, and opened Number One Betting Shop.
His son’s first time running a gambling business when Tripp Sr sold the company to British agency Sportingbet for $35 million.
Much to the new owner’s shock, it was blocked from getting a gambling licence in the newly legalised industry because of its association with Alan Trip.
Eventually a deal was struck to be licenced in the Northern Territory, still a haven for betting agencies so long as the radioactive old bookie wasn’t involved.
Matt Tripp was tasked with transferring the operation to Australia and keeping hold of the clients, before handing over to new Australian boss Michael Sullivan.
Tripp Sr has mostly retired to the town of Yarrawonga on the Victoria-NSW border, where Matt Tripp and his sister Elizabeth grew up, but still spent time in Vanuatu.
Mr Hawke was photographed by local media playing golf with his old friend, saying he was on the island to ‘have a very relaxed visit with my good friend Alan Tripp’.
AFL star, and self-confessed gambling addict, Brendan Fevola was spotted on the Tripp family superyacht Majestic II with his wife Alex and their three children in 2013.
Fevola was at the time playing for the Yarrawonga Pigeons team years after his AFL retirement, of which Sportsbet was a major sponsor.
Just 23 minutes before the race got underway she received an email that read; ‘Your betr account has been deactivated. You will not have any access to your account until you choose to activate it by sending an account activation request to email@example.com’