On Friday, the NRL announced it had re-upped with Sportsbet on a new pact that will see the Northern Territory-licensed bookie serve as the NRL’s official wagering partner until 2020. The deal is valued at “more than $60m” (US $44m) which the NRL says will “enable funds to be put back into the game at all levels.”
The deal provides Sportsbet, the down under division of the newly merged Paddy Power Betfair behemoth, with first crack at advertising during NRL events on official TV broadcasters Nine Network and Fox Sports, as well as with radio networks. Sportsbet will also work with the NRL to accelerate the league’s digital offering, opening up new opportunities for data analytics, insights and direct marketing.
Andrew Abdo, the NRL’s head of commercial, said the deal came with some conditions, including controls to restrict wagering promotion, particularly with an eye towards protecting underage sports fans. Sportsbet will also “fund and implement a market leading responsible gambling program.”
The news comes as a blow to CrownBet, the online wagering arm of Aussie casino operator Crown Resorts. Earlier this week, CrownBet CEO Matthew Tripp – who founded Sportsbet in 2006 before selling out to Paddy Power five years later – underscored his group’s interest in securing the NRL partnership by telling local media that CrownBet would “give the NRL more money than any other bookie can.”
Tripp had also pointed out that he and Crown Resorts owner James Packer held ownership stakes in two NRL clubs – Melbourne Storm and South Sydney Rabbitohs, respectively – as further justification for why CrownBet’s pitch should win the day. Alas, CrownBet’s quest to add the NRL to the bookie’s current partnership with the Australian Football League and its DraftStars daily fantasy sports joint venture with Fox Sports was not to be.