Aussie Rugby Teams Join New South Wales to Reject Sports Bet Sponsors

Posted on: March 3, 2022, 10:03h. 

Last updated on: March 4, 2022, 09:29h.

The New South Wales-led anti-sports betting initiative “Reclaim the Game,” has added two more sports teams. Two National Rugby League teams have joined the growing campaign. The program targets the reduction of betting advertising and sponsorships in sports to the point that they don’t have to connect.

Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs
Members of the Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs of Australia’s National Rugby League take a breather during a game. The team is one of two that recently joined an anti-sports betting movement in NSW. (Image: Sportsbeezer)

Nine clubs in various sports, including basketball, soccer, cricket, and the National Rugby League (NRL) are part of NSW’s “Reclaim the Game” initiative.

Two more teams are now in the group. The Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs and the South Sydney Rabbitohs of the NRL have announced their involvement, according to The Guardian. They will no longer allow sports betting-related sponsorships on their uniforms and will refrain from participating in any sportsbook-led promotions.

“Our community plays such a big role in our club, and we felt that this is a campaign we can support to reduce community exposure to sports betting advertising,” said Blake Solly, the CEO of the Rabbitohs.

No Room for Betting in Sports

Both teams decided to join the campaign for similar reasons. They explained that, as community-driven clubs, they have an obligation to present themselves in a family-friendly light. However, that attention to the community wasn’t on their mind a few years ago when a number of Bulldogs were busted for dancing naked at an NSW bar.

The decision to join may not be in keeping with the wishes of the NRL. However, the clubs can make their own choices. The league has an ongoing relationship with Sportsbet that it would prefer not to lose.

NSW Not Alone in Anti-Ad Campaign

However, some public officials are saying that sports betting operators are a little too overzealous with their advertising.

Australian Football League (AFL) clubs have taken a proactive approach to address their links with the betting industry in the past decade. Several teams from Victoria partnered with the Victorian Responsible Gaming Foundation and ended their betting-related sponsorships.

Public debate has centered on the prevalence of gambling ads on Australian TV, especially during sporting events. This mirrors developments in the UK, where sponsorship arrangements, and limitations, in sports, will likely be made as a result of the 2005 Gambling Act Review.

Tabcorp CEO David Attenborough demanded restrictions on advertising last spring, with the exception being during racing events. He cited a need for the protection of vulnerable people and a limit to children’s exposure to betting activity.