SPORTSBET will continue its association with the NRL for the next four years, inking the most lucrative wagering partner deal in Australian sports.
The $60 million deal warded off a bid by CrownBet to steal league away from Sportsbet and will run until 2020.
CrownBet made a stunning run at the AFL, pinning it down for what was believed to be some $10 million per season in 2014 and there were rumblings that it would beat out Sportsbet and add the NRL to its stable – a deal that would have seen it become the official wagering partner of the two sports that attract almost half the betting in Australia.
sportsbet.com.au’s head of commercial Andrew Abdo said the renewal features a range of conditions around advertising and marketing, responsible gambling, and data and privacy protocols that would significantly improve integrity in wagering.
“One of the crucial factors in this agreement is that there will be controls in place to restrict the promotion of wagering, especially to minors, and Sportsbet will fund and implement a market leading responsible gambling program,” Mr Abdo said.
The agreement will also see Sportsbet working with the NRL to accelerate its digital capability and the opportunity this opens up for the game in data analytics, insights and direct marketing.
“We already have a partnership with Sportsbet but this extension will see a significant increase in funding for Rugby League,” Mr Abdo said.
sportsbet.com.au chief marketing officer Barni Evans, said the agreement would reaffirm the company’s strong links with Rugby League.
“There has never been more interest in Rugby League with ratings, crowds and memberships all on the rise so we are delighted to become the code’s official partner,” Mr Evans said.
Back in December 2014, following its deal with the AFL, CrownBet boss Matthew Tripp said he had his sights set on a partnership with the NRL.
“It’s certainly a consideration for us,” Tripp told News Limited.
“It’s our objective to become the biggest operator in the land, so the NRL would be a good fit for us, as we thought the AFL would be.
”As soon as the NRL put their hand up and say ‘we’ll accept submissions for the tender’, we’ll have our hand up and put our best case forward.
”It’s revenue I believe they need and revenue they should take on board because the wagering operator-NRL association could complement each other really well.
“Providing it makes sense to consider it, we certainly will.“
Tripp is part of a consortium that owns the Melbourne Storm.
On the NRL front, sportsbet.com.au has slashed Parramatta’s odds from $101 to $13.50 for the premiership, in a move that could turn the Eels into a mini Leicester City story.
Given almost no hope at the start of the season, the Eels made headlines after they were stripped of 12 competition points for salary cap rorts this month.
The club was also fined $1 million, but NRL boss Todd Greenberg hoped they would be able to press on from there – just like punters obviously do.
“If Parramatta wins every game under the salary cap, I will be very happy,” Greenberg said.
“But they have to comply with the salary cap like every one of the other 15 clubs.
“I’ve tried very hard to find a way forward here that Parramatta Eels can take a step forward.”
But sportsbet.com.au punters clearly believe they will succeed in the face of adversity, with the bookie’s Christian Jantzen reporting the support for the Eels has been “staggering”
“Sixty per cent of all bets on the premiership winner have been on the Eels over the past week and Sportsbet is facing a payout of nearly one and a half million dollars if Parramatta can go on to win the competition,” Jantzen said.
“Only the Broncos have attracted more individual bets since markets opened in October 2015.
“Has the world gone mad?
“The Eels have gone from $101 long shots to fifth favourites without playing a game and they’re shorter now than when they had their 12 competition points.”
Jantzen said three punters had hammered the Eels with $1000 bets, two of them at the $101 mark, which would net them $101,000 each, with the other at $67, for a collect of $67,000.
The NRL said its integrity unit obtained more than 700,000 documents to uncover the Eels’ alleged breaches.
“The strategies include paying players undisclosed remuneration from the club’s own resources, sourcing third party payments in breach of the salary-cap rules and arranging with club suppliers to inflate or create fictitious invoices to raise money that was to be made available to the players,” Greenberg said.
NRL premiership market
$13.50 Eels (in from $101)
$17 Sea Eagles
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