With so much negative publicity surrounding the matter of betting promotions during sports broadcasts, the NRL has decided not to find an official betting partner for the rest of the season as the income will not be enough to offset the complaints. Until now the ARL Commission had a lucrative deal with bookmaker Tom Waterhouse worth $20 million over five years but that seems to have fallen apart now.
Not that further opportunities have been in short supply and various betting agencies have attempted to fill the void, including TAB. However ARLC has declined any further offers and will not seek a replacement, at least not for the rest of the 2013 season. Waterhouse paid millions to become the official face of betting on the Nine Network but his role during broadcasts was greatly reduced, following complaints about the amount of coverage sports betting was getting during primetime broadcasts and much concern about the influence his betting odds spruiking was having on children.
Now that the public attitude towards gambling has clearly changed, much doubt has been raised as to just how valuable any similar deals would be, while a parliamentary committee is also looking to ban advertisements on sports grounds and football jerseys, as they are all too visible to children. The Broadcasting Services Amendment Bill 2013 has banned gambling promotions on TV before 9pm, as children are likely to be watching during this time and it could have a dangerous influence on them if betting is flaunted at them so prominently. Academic experts agree that it could be harmful to expose children to gambling promotions and that such advertising should be minimised.
Prime Minister Julia Gillard has also gotten involved and moved to ban live odds during broadcasts, although they were still permitted during half-time, but any failure to comply by these rules would result in a full ban on TV advertising for sports betting. Rumours that negotiations between the NRL and Waterhouse had broken down as a result of his involvement with the More Joyous horse scandal in April were denied by the league.
Gerard Daffy of Tattsbet believes the NRL knows exactly what it is doing and says that with a deal already in place with all the corporate bookmakers, the league will continue to profit from the sports betting industry. A partnership with the NRL does not guarantee a visual presence, otherwise a betting company can only sell so much.