Centrebet embarks on post-acquisition IT consolidation

Centrebet embarks on post-acquisition IT consolidation

Website overhaul, network and call centre reduction to reduce overheads

Online wagering operator, Centrebet, (ASX: CIL), is consolidating its IT infrastructure to reduce costs and remove system duplication following its $183 million takeover by UK-based rival, Sportingbet, in September last year.

A migration of Centrebet’s Web infrastructure over to Sportingbet’s internal platform is underway as well as consolidation of the two companies’ wide area networks (WAN) and call centres.

According to Centrebet network operations manager, Shane Paterson, the company -- which has an annual turnover of $1 billion a year and offers 6000 international sports and horseracing wagering events on its website -- migrated its call centre in Alice Springs into Sportingbet's Darwin call centre late last year.

Hosting services will also be provided through Sportingbet Darwin. The migration and consolidation will be complete in June 2012.

“The outcomes [of the project] will be significant cost reduction, simplified management and not having to worry about multiple WAN links,” Paterson said of the consolidation program.

Prior to its acquisition, Centrebet implemented a Microsoft Windows Azure platform for the Spring Racing carnival which takes place in October every year.

He said the company had considered buying hardware which would have cost $50,000 and hosting the platform internally.

“The return on investment for us was that we didn’t have to invest in any capital expenditure outlays,” he said of the decision to opt for Azure.

“The network also performed well because data was distributed over a large number of machines rather than a single database. We have access to sufficient bandwidth and processing power when punter numbers and transactions spike.”

Paterson said the company selected Azure also because of a long standing partnership with Microsoft. There are now plans to build microsites for other sporting events such as Australian Football League (AFL) and National Rugby League (NRL) grand finals.

Security is also top of mind for Centrebet following a cyber squatting attempt in 2009. Attempts to expand to Greece ahead of the 2010 FIFA World Cup were hampered by cyber squatting on both the and domains. The company, through Melbourne IT, ultimately resorted to using dispute resolution laws in Greece to get back the domain names in time for the World Cup, through the ELTA, the Hellenic Post Office.

While the company does not operate pokie machines, which are subject to a $1 maximum bet in Australia, Paterson said it is required by legislation to impose wagering deposit limits which have a 24 hour change period should the customer want to change the amount. The limits are in place to crack down on problem gambling.

In November last year, the Internet Industry Association made a submission to the federal Interactive Gambling Act 2001 in which it said prohibition of online gambling sites and applications was ineffective given the availability of offshore services.

Instead, the IIA called for problem gambling to be regulated at the PC and smartphone-level.

Follow Hamish Barwick on Twitter: @HamishBarwick

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