3 minute read
So. There's an outfit down in Canberra – Racing and Sports – they listed back in November with the ticker code RTH and the jazzed up name RAS Technology Holdings.
The raise was well-backed, leaving just shy of $30m in the kitty, the shares at $1.50 a pop.
From what I can tell, they took a few days off at Christmas and have been executing on a bit of a cunning plan ever since.
But the reason we're here isn't to do with my lowly football team.
Nor is it specifically about a cleverly-timed IPO to snatch pole position from a bunch of stocks which are losing a race all on their own anyway.
Nor, even, that RAS was already drilling into – and leveraging – the data-game way back in 1999 (when racing industry veterans Gary Crispe and Robert Vilkaitis founded the firm AND the very year St George blew a historic lead to lose the Grand Final to Melbourne Storm, who it turns out were cheating at the time.)
We're here because sports-gaming investors have been banging their heads against anything hard and nearby trying to figure out how to cash in on the oft-repeated obscenity that is the cash-Brontosaurus everyone keeps calling the American sports betting market – just opened to the world – and supposedly vulnerable to the pretty wiles of our big name Aussie-listed gambling go-getters.
But that just doesn't seem to want to happen.
Not in Nevada. Not in football.
Not at home. Not on the phone.
Not in time for HY2022. Not because of me and you.
Investors need two things here. They need an explanation. And they need a new angle.
So here I am, between ASX announcements, going over local gaming stocks as ruefully promised to one really persistent reader who found my email on the Stockhead website and then sent me a curt message which I didn't reply to, because – well, I'm not paid to. AND I didn't know we were putting our contact details about the place just for any of you nuts (*given: you may not ALL be nuts).
Then I forgot about it and then like three days later said reader sent the same thing to ALL his mates with me cc'd in and… long story short – here I am, for my sins, reading about this Canberra-based betting set-up.
Only, it's not a betting set-up at all.
This is a tech-data firm with a hell of an evil niche.
RAS Technology Holdings (ASX:RTH) provides incredible, granular, stoopidly-totally-over-the-top data on upwards of 1.5 million horses.
Basically, if there's a pony racing somewhere in any one of 30 countries, then RAS has the perfectly odd job of getting it into the hands of all the big, evil industry players and their billions of customers who make 'millions in software and then lose it all at the track' – BIG names. EVIL names. Names like Entain Group (they run Ladbrokes and Neds), Flutter Group (them of the Sportsbet, Paddy Power and Betfairilk), Tabcorp, BlueBet and bet365.
US and local investors may soon be putting out an APB on Aussie-listed bookmakers like PointsBet (ASX:PBH), which has racked up almost half a billion dollars in debt as it leads the antipodean land grab in the nascent US sports betting universe – a reportedly beautiful land of endlessly tedious sport, rapid digital connectivity, wealth to burn and poverty to exploit.
Stockhead's deputy editor Sam Jacobs and I have been poring over the ultimate fate of these heavily-backed, yet-to-deliver Aussie-listed sports betting stocks.
Be it over a cup of tea in the newsroom, a beer at the TAB, cheap tequila later at his trendy but homely place in Surry Hills, then outside for a nightcap on the footpath, or finally in the grossly overpriced vegan cafe the next day, this is a sector which keeps insisting it's in prime-position to just reach up and pluck the fruit of a giant US gaming market, a market ripe enough to fall off the post-COVID tree.
That's not happened, and investors are starting to ask… why?
Blue skies turn grey
Here's the value proposition which followed mature Aussie betting platforms into the States.
In 2018, US lawmakers lifted the lid on legal betting, previously the sole domain of the state of Nevada.
What followed was described as a state-by-state blue-sky opportunity as the rollout across the country, like so many dominoes, began to drop one at a time.
50 cashed-up, pliable and obscenely massive consumer bases. 50 different state jurisdictions on offer for companies that can execute a first-mover advantage. It's been all too tantalising for frustrated investors looking for a return.
The Colt from Old Regret
Well, coming from a mature gambling market like Australia, the pitch was that our companies — stacked as they are with proven technologies and blue-blooded, can-do, sports-mad executives — were ideally placed to take a big bite.
There's a heap of excitement over this data in the US where horse racing is horrible. Punters are lucky to get any more than just the horse's name (and the jockey's).
Here, you're looking at horse's name, trainer, jockey, barrier, career form, prize money, last 10 results, win or place ratio, speed map, "gear changes", and of course, odds.
That's where Racing & Sports reckons it's really well placed to take advantage once sports wagering ramps up in the US.
And unlike the betting companies, it doesn't have to be paying a fortune for customer acquisition.
Instead, Racing and Sports is focussed on extending its supply of its Trading Manager and Pricing Manager capabilities, as well as its analytics, enhanced content and infographics to wagering operators globally.
When there's a gold rush…
Sell shovels. Or in this case, diamond drill rigs, reverse circulation drills, electro-magnetic aerial equipment and some gold-seeking helicopter drone-missiles.
That's the Racing and Sports' pitch – or it's something like that – just not for mining, but for sports betting.
In other words, while all the betting companies are trying to get the proverbial gold (gambler's dollars) through heavy marketing and customer acquisition costs, they also need a tech platform to manage their bets.
In that context, Gary Crispe, RAS executive director and CCO, says the company is an entirely different animal to the sports betting stocks it's ill-compared to.
"Racing and Sports is not like Pointsbet, we are not a wagering operator.
"We are a technology, data and media business.
"We're a finely-tuned, highly-experienced bunch of sports-loving tech-heads. And we work with wagering operators to deliver a totally unique set of B2B services. In the end, we boost their brands by creating and providing industry leading wagering technology solutions. That's our pitch. It's simple and – I reckon – pretty brilliant."
Here's RTH with the very, very latest on (spins bottle )- oh, it's Turffontein Standside in South Africa! I mean check out the maps and charts and such. It's gold.
Crispe says B2B wagering technologies – from content, analytics, data, the whole whack – is an entirely blank tablet worldwide. While investors have been concentrating on the land grab for wagering supremacy, heaps of wagering operators around the world have left their product stagnant, unrefined and unable to deliver on the right technology.
"So we provide these operators with the visceral, drill-down content they require to attract and – most importantly – retain customers.
"It's our job to make and hand over to them the most advanced analytics-based and proprietary predictive models with some utterly cracking industry leading content, so that operators get top offer the best detail on their websites and mobile apps straight to their users."
The dark horse
So there, down in Canberra – probably in the steamy badlands of Fyshwick somewhere – Racing and Sports is storming the US, not as a competitor, but as a supplier. A source of as yet unseen analytics, deep background and enhanced content as a service to the wagering operators already flocking stateside.
Crispe told Stockhead, despite listing just before Christmas, the company is already "establishing significant digital assets in the US market to extend upon its existing digital presence."
This includes web and app and related cool stuff.
He says RAS already covers nearly all of US racing today.
"As the official and exclusive distributor of US racing to Australia and NZ we already provide fixed odds using our Trading/Pricing, enhanced content and analytics to wagering operators in Australia/NZ.
"Racing and Sports also provides US racing to the UK and Europe via our partner, the Press Association as distributor, where we provide fixed odds using our Trading/Pricing Manager, enhanced content and analytics."
So the product doesn't need a beta-test or a practice launch to make an impact over in the states – the bloody thing's been orbiting the planet down this end for years.
And now the dark horse is getting ready to touchdown in the land of the nothing is free, but you can certainly place a bet on it.
Online article taken from Stockhead, published on Friday, 18th March 2022, Author, Christian Edwards.