NRL's move to scale back gambling reliance

Josh Massoud

The NRL has moved to scale back the game’s reliance on gambling sponsorship by banning all betting logos and signage from its new women’s competition.

The league issued the directive in a policy document that was sent to all 16 clubs last month.

Obtained by 7 News, the document states: “The ARLC have chosen to exclude any above the line (visible) gambling sponsorship across the NRL Women’s Premiership.

“The ARLC is committed to reducing the amount of in playing venues and on team apparel game-wide.”

NRL to remove all betting signage and logos in new women's competition. Pic: Getty

Rugby league has been perhaps the most heavily criticised sport when it comes to reliance of betting sponsorships.

The issue became a firestorm in 2013 when bookmaker Tom Waterhouse appeared as part of the Friday Night free-to-air commentary team. Penrith’s home ground has also been rebranded Centrebet Stadium at the time.

This year most NRL clubs still have official wagering partners, with the Storm, Tigers, Bulldogs, Sea Eagles and Broncos all featuring the names of gambling-related entities on their jerseys.

Additionally, Manly’s traditional home at Brookvale has been re-named Lottoland, in addition to the club’s back-of-jersey sponsorship.

The NRL is yet to decide whether to allow betting on matches in the Women’s Premiership, which will run at the back end of the season.

Submissions for five-year licenses close on Friday. As of Wednesday only six clubs had confirmed their intention to apply - Brisbane, New Zealand, South Sydney, the Roosters, St George Illawarra and Cronulla.

Seven News understands a number of clubs have had reservations about the cost of running a side, with the NRL asking for a $50,000 participation fee for each season.

The first competition could feature as few as four teams, in which case all games will be played as curtain raisers to NRL finals matches in September.

If a six team competition goes ahead, the first two weeks will be staged at club venues as curtain raisers between Rounds 25 and 26.

Games will run for 30 minutes a half, but it is yet to be decided whether there will be unlimited interchange.