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Melanie Porter October 30, 2023 3 min read
National Rugby League Clubs Prop Up for Gambling Ad Ban
National Rugby League clubs are getting ready to handle a potential ban on gambling advertising which also includes front-of-jersey sponsorships that attract roughly $1m a season
A number of clubs part of the professional rugby league competition in Australasia, the National Rugby League (NRL), are getting ready for some big, up-and-coming changes in the industry.
Namely, the clubs that represent New South Wales, Queensland, Victoria, the Australian Capital Territory, and New Zealand, may have to face a very costly ban on front-of-jersey sponsorship deals and other forms of gambling-related advertising that the government has been pushing ahead.
As a result of extensive talks with executives representing sporting code, as well as online and TV bosses, Communications Minister Michelle Rowland appears to be on the brink of making the much-anticipated announcement that would curb online, televised, and outdoor betting promotions and cost clubs millions of dollars.
Rooting for the “Grandfather Clause”
The Manly Warringah Sea Eagles Club currently has an active agreement with PointsBet, the popular sportsbook that boasts of being the “only” company that offers traditional betting systems on all sports.
The deal between the two parties would naturally come to an end in December 2025, and it also features a half-a-million bonus for every year the club scoops up the NRL title. Similarly, leading sportsbook Betr announced it would pay out around $26 million to Penrith Panthers provided they won the NRL Grand Final.
Accordingly, Manly’s chief executive officer, Tony Mestrov, expressed hope that the new measures that the Australian government is currently considering would also feature a so-called “grandfather clause.”
The latter would allow the club to successfully comply with the terms of their arrangement with the sportsbook while allowing them to search for a new sponsor.
Mestrov also explained that his club met with PointsBet and the NRL in recent months and discussed the upcoming changes, which allowed them to kickstart the preparations for the things to come.
“It’s not new news to us,” added the CEO, while mentioning that it has been suggested that in about three years’ time, the government would completely ban front-shirt jersey ads.
Suggested Radio, School Areas, and Billboard Ad Restrictions
According to reports from The Sydney Morning Herald, sports betting companies involved in the talks also suggested the use of gambling advertising restrictions on the radio during the times when parents drop off and pick up their children, as well as at nearby schools, and on billboards.
At the moment, 12 of a total of 17 NRL clubs have opted for sports betting companies to be their partners. The list includes premier clubs Penrith and Cronulla, whose stadiums also carry the names of corporate sportsbooks BlueBet and PointsBet.
For the time being, it is not certain whether the government will also stop allowing sportsbooks from being the sponsors that give the names of the stadiums they are backing up.
A few months ago, English clubs representing the Premier League came to an agreement to drop both gambling companies as well as front-of-jersey sponsorships on match day starting in the summer of 2026.
In May, we reported on Peter V’landys, the Australian Rugby League Commission chair and chief executive of Racing New South Wales, and his expansion plans for the NRL, mentioning how the official also referred to sports gambling as a form of “entertainment” while comparing it to going out to a restaurant.