The National Rugby League (NRL), Australia’s top rugby league competition, has defended its link with betting partner Sportsbet in the wake of another match-fixing scandal.
New South Wales police are investigating claims Wests Tigers centre Tim Simona illegally placed bets on NRL games last year. It is widely reported the player is likely to have his contract torn up and receive a life ban from the sport.
The NRL signed an AUS$60 million ($46 million / €44 million) deal with Sportsbet in 2016 making the bookmaker the game’s official betting partner. Under the terms of the deal, the NRL receives a percentage of turnover from Sportsbet.
Todd Greenberg, the NRL’s chief executive, said that while rights holders need to protect the integrity of their sports, they can best do this by liaising with the betting industry.
“There is a really strong balance here,” Greenberg said during an interview with ABC News 24.
“I made some strong comments last year you'll remember about anyone involved in match-fixing or gambling inside the game against the rules will face life bans and I stand by that because that really cuts to the absolute core of the integrity of the sport. For you and I to turn up every week to watch that contest, we need to know that's pure. Anyone who gets in the way of that will absolutely not be welcome back.
“But we do have to find a balance because people, particularly in this country, they love to have a bet. And we're not going to get away from that. So whether or not we have branding or not, people are still going to be looking to have a wager on the game.”
Simona is accused of betting on matches, opposition tryscorers and even himself during Tigers matches last season.
Strike Force Nuralda, formed to investigate match fixing allegations last year, has taken up the investigation.
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