Sport betting exchange Betfair announced it will restore wagering on the Australian National Rugby League, as the operator and the league that is scheduled to re-start May 28 signed a new integrity deal. As part of the agreement, Betfair is forced to increase the commission charge on customer winnings.
NRL Wagering Suspended
In February, the sports betting exchange suspended games from the league from its offering, claiming that the fees demanded by it were too high, making wagering no longer viable. Betfair and other sports betting firms have been for months at loggerheads with the league before the exchange opted for the drastic move.
The NRL has infuriated the major sports betting companies after its proposal for a product fee model often used by horse racing regulators to maximize cash in from marquee race meetings during autumn and spring carnivals. Basically, it is a super tax levied on bookmakers to allow them to offer markets on some of the league’s highest profile matches such as State of Origin and the Grand Final.
In 2019, after failing to reach an agreement on a permanent fee structure before the start of its season, the NRL settled on a tax model, just in time for the opening State of Origin clash, but the one-year deal meant parties would have to return again to the negotiation table before the start of the 2020 season.
New Agreement Reached
Though there were no details revealed regarding the deal struck in the 11th hour, punters are facing an increase of the market base rate (MBR), to 10% of winnings, the commission being only 6% in 2019. And Betfair is adamant the spike was unavoidable as the NRL would have taken more than two-thirds of its winnings through product fees if the MBR remained unchanged.
Expressing its disappointment at the inevitability of the spike in the commission rate, Betfair noted the MBR on the NRL games that resume tomorrow, May 28, is four times bigger than the rate the exchange is charging the Australian Football League games. The AFL is scheduled to resume June 11, just two weeks after the rugby games have returned to action.
The start of the NRL will provide a breath of fresh air for battered sports book operators who had almost nothing in product offering for the past two months due to the worldwide suspension of sporting events. Besides the action from the rugby games in Australia, bookies can now offer German Bundesliga games as the league already resumed competition, expected to be followed by the rest of the top 5 European football leagues soon.