The National Rugby League has moved to prevent a number of betting types and banned the updating of live odds at games as part of a comprehensive review of the game’s policies on gaming.

The NRL today issued a set of strict guidelines for clubs in relation to the promotion of sports betting and the protection of the integrity of the game.  

It is also reminding all players and officials of their responsibilities under the game’s Code of Conduct which ensure that no official or player bets on a Rugby League game or divulges information not already in the public domain for the assistance of any betting activity.

From Round 14, Wagering Operators will withdraw betting on the first scoring play of the second half, the last scoring play in the second half and whether there will be a field goal in a game.

All ‘exotic’ betting on the Toyota Cup will also be withdrawn along with ‘exotic’ bets on the NSW and Queensland Cups (the latter two decisions have been reached in close consultation with the Australian Rugby League).

Furthermore, Wagering Operators have been advised that the NRL will not approve bets on:
•    any matter which is the outcome of an NRL investigation, including but not limited to judiciary and salary cap;
•    any bet types that unduly focus on the decisions of a referee or on-field officials, or;
•    any matter the NRL deems inappropriate including, but not limited to, injuries, termination of employment, suspensions or punishments.

“We are committed to maintaining the integrity of the game,” NRL Chief Executive, Mr David Gallop, said today.

“The increase in the level of betting on sport following changes to government legislation in recent years was inevitable.  

“We believe we’ve led the way in managing some of the outcomes through integrity agreements and education and through the involvement of police and expert investigators but all sports have also faced an increase in speculation and rumour around betting activity.

“The further bet types stray from the central contest of the match the more people will be tempted to create those rumours.

“We believe in a realistic approach to the issue and in the importance of the integrity agreements we have established with betting operators over recent years.”

The NRL has also made it clear to betting operators and to fans that there are a number of markets that are approved on the clear understanding that all parties understand the NRL has limited or no control over the decision making process, the result or the announcement of outcomes.

These include: Club-related decisions (eg. coach, captain appointments), broadcaster Man of the Match awards, Dally M Voting, Team of Dally M Winner and statistics-based betting markets such as tackle counts and metres gained.

In addition to the betting measures, the NRL has reiterated to Clubs the conditions for sponsorship approval between a club and a gaming or wagering operator. These include that:  
•    NRL Clubs can only enter into commercial sponsorship arrangements with Wagering Operators that have a current Product Fee and Integrity Agreement with the NRL and are registered in Australia or New Zealand;
•    Where a club has a sponsorship with a Gaming or Wagering Operator, employees making appearances at functions and other corporate events make it clear that they are representing their club and that no individual employee could be perceived to have a direct relationship with the Operator;
•    No NRL Club can become a shareholder in a betting operator nor shall it create or become a betting entity to conduct betting itself on any Rugby League game.

The NRL has also confirmed the following guidelines in relation to its social responsibilities around the promotion of gaming and wagering:
•    No licensed product, including team jerseys and clothing, that is made for children can carry gaming or wagering sponsorship;
•    There is a restriction of the use of Stadium naming rights agreements involving Gaming and Wagering Operators that prevents the naming right being used in the advertising of or the staging of junior clinics;
•     Cheer-leaders, ball-persons and all on-field personnel under the age of 18 must not be involved in the promotion of any gaming or wagering activity;
•    Clubs and Wagering Operators must not aggressively promote betting by using repetitive advertising messages at games;
•    Home Clubs must ensure there is no announcement or advertising of live updates of odds and/or fluctuation of odds throughout the running of a match.

The NRL will continue to make available to all players, game officials and staff (as well as their partners and immediate family) access to a 24-hour confidential counselling service, which includes support programs for players with gambling issues of any kind.

It will, through the NRL/RLPA Education and Welfare programme, continue to promote the risks associated with gambling and the responsibilities players face.

Mr Gallop also publicly welcomed recent statements by the Federal Sports Minister, the Hon Mark Arbib, and State Governments that support the introduction of uniform legislation and a commitment to working with sports and betting operators to develop nationwide anti-corruption measures.

The NRL will also continue working with other major sports through the Coalition of Major Professional and Participation Sports (COMPPS) in progressing policy discussions on these issues.