NRL bans Aussie bookmakers from offering novelty bets
Australia’s National Rugby League has ordered bookmakers to stop offering certain exotic wagers following a scandal involving a player caught betting on NRL matches. Last month, the NRL launched an investigation into whether Wests Tiger center Tim Simona had placed wagers on opposing players scoring tries against him. While a police investigation determined that the affair didn’t warrant criminal charges, Simona (pictured) could face a lifetime ban from the NRL should the league decide to make an example to discourage future PR damage.
This week, the NRL claimed it had sent Australian bookies a notice in December requiring them to scrap a variety of novelty betting options, including head-to-head player wagers, most runs, most meters, most tackles and betting on 40-20 kicks. The NRL also banned all wagering on its under-20s division.
However, the NRL said it has no plans to ban betting on first-try scorer, which is the second most popular form of NRL betting after team head-to-head wagers. “Gambling has been around forever and it will continue to be around, what we’re doing is investing much more and making sure we can regulate that market and protect the integrity of the sport.”A league spokesman told the Australian Associated Press that the focus was on “more subjective things.
Bookmakers, who must pay the NRL an annual product fee if they wish to offer wagering on league matches, were said to have pushed for the retention of the first-try scoring market. Fairfax Media reported that a number of bookies intended to privately lobby the NRL to reinstate the banned novelty wagers, although a coordinated public campaign is said to be unlikely.
“Fairfax Media understands a select number of wagering operators plan to express concerns to League Central about the scrapping of markets the NRL feared were vulnerable to spot fixing in an integrity crackdown on the eve of the season,” it said.
Simona, who has been suspended from playing for the Tigers while the matter is ongoing, has until Friday to respond to the NRL integrity unit’s evidence against him. The evidence reportedly includes text messages indicating that Simona made his wagers through third parties to mask his involvement.
Meanwhile, in the latest example of hell hath no fury, it has emerged that Simona’s ex-girlfriend was the source of the original social media post that exposed Simona’s betting. The woman’s social media accounts have reportedly been targeted by angry West Tigers fans, some of whom have posted threats of physical harm. On Wednesday, the NRL said it had been made aware of the threats and had advised the woman to contact the police, just in case.
“There are massive penalties in place for players that do the wrong thing and the integrity of the game is central to that,” said NRL chief Todd Greenberg as the season got underway. “If and when we need to make some hard decisions, we’ll make them.”