Betfair has resigned from its partnership with the National Rugby League

Oliver Noah

One of the biggest betting operators in the country is Betfair. It is a well-established partner of many sports clubs. It is also known as one of the main sponsors, behind the country’s premium sports events. Understandably, many companies are sensitive to changes in terms and conditions. They may, or may not, make the environment appealing for corporate sponsors. With the recent changes in fees, Betfair decided to withdraw from the National Rugby League of Australia (NRL). We explain why.

Pull out 

Betfair is a global wagering giant. The news, which confirmed its withdrawal from the Rugby League, came as a surprise. One month into the season, the move has been widely interpreted as a sign of protest, on behalf of Betfair. Why? Betfair is at odds with the amount of gambling-related fees betting companies are now forced to pay, in order to operate on the market.

Betfair will no longer offer its customers the opportunity to wager for pre-season matches. This includes the present end of the week’s All-Stars fixture and other popular preliminaries. Examples? South Sydney or St George Illawarra Charity Shield. This is all due to the conflict, which impacted its existing arrangements with the Rugby League.

Betfair, and other leading betting firms or operators, have been at loggerheads with the Rugby League for quite a long time. The issue comes down to how much they charge or are permitted to charge, on wagering on its matches.

Proposal 

In turn, the National Rugby League has proposed the tax be levied on bookmakers. This gives the markets access to some of the best matches or profiles. Some of those matches are the State of Origin clashes, and of course, the Grand Final. 

It is an item fee model, regularly applied by horse hustling controllers. This is how betting works in marquee race events, especially during the harvest-time or spring festivals. In short, it is nothing new in the industry.

But betting insiders see the move as a way of putting the burden on a household sport. Clearly, not everyone is supportive of the Rugby League’s position on product expenses, even within the wider industry. It is remarkable that we got to this point, with leading Australia’s biggest wagering organizations unwilling to move an inch. In the meantime, the Eels-Bulldogs season opener is coming up soon, scheduled for 12th March.

The strain between the parties is nothing new to the League. Just under a year ago, the parties had to settle for a brief interim accord, when it was clear that they were at disagreement over a permanent change to the charging structure. This happened as the operators were preparing themselves for the start of the 2019 season.

In the end, an alternative fee structure has been settled with the wagering operators, just before the opening State of Origin clash, which took place in Brisbane. Crisis avoided, at least for a while.

In any case, the one-year “bargain” implied that the National Rugby League officials and bookmakers would need to come back to the negotiation table, before the beginning of this season.