The South Sydney Rabbitohs are set to participate in the season-opening of the National Rugby League (NRL) in Las Vegas although it was found to have received money from the Reclaim the Game initiative that was specially designed by the New South Wales (NSW) Government to offset sports betting and its effects.
Reportedly, anti-gambling campaigners have described the situation as “laughable”.
Earlier in August, the Rabbitohs were named as one of the four clubs set to participate in the venture at Las Vegas-based Allegiant Stadium on March 2nd, 2024, alongside the Sea Eagles, the Roosters, and the Broncos.
In May 2023, Peter V’landys, the chairman of the Australian Rugby League Commission, explained that opening the following season in Las Vegas would be helpful for the development of new gambling and broadcasting markets in the US, and the rugby league was an excellent opportunity to provide US residents with wagering content in various timezones. The National Rugby League currently receives a portion of all wagers made on the sport through the services of licensed betting operators.
The aforementioned “Reclaim the Game” initiative sponsors teams involved in five codes – the Macarthur and Western Sydney Wanderers in the A-Ligue, the Canterbury-Bankstown in the NRL, the AFL’s Swans, and the Sydney Sixers and Sydney Thunder clubs of the Big Bask League. It promises to fight the negative impact that sports betting advertising has on fans, which basically means that it would become a sponsor of these teams instead of the revenue they would otherwise get from gambling operators.
The South Sydney Rabbitohs Praised by NRL for Anti-Gambling Sponsorships, Too
The chief executive of the Alliance for Gambling Reform (AGR) group, Carol Bennett, shared that the move makes a mockery of any commitment to tackle gambling-related harm. According to her, clubs should not be part of gambling promotion considering the fact that the aforementioned programme promotes “reclaiming the game” from the gambling sector.
The South Sydney Rabbitohs officially unveiled their deal last year. At the time, 78% of the club’s fans agreed there were too many gambling advertisements, while 80% of the fans believed that minors and young people were actually exposed to too much gambling advertising.
Blake Solly, the chief executive of the club, shared at the time that the community played a big role in the club, and the club believed that it could support the campaign aimed at reducing community exposure to sports betting advertising. This week, a spokesperson for the club explained that the Las Vegas trip did not pose any issues for the involvement of the club in the Reclaim the Game.
On the other hand, the spokesperson for the Office of Responsible Gambling, the South Sydney Rabbitohs would continue to play an important role in Reclaim the Game. The spokesperson praised the club for supporting the initiative by publicly rejecting all sports betting advertising and sponsorships with wagering companies.
Olivia Cole has worked as a journalist for several years now. Over the last couple of years she has been engaged in writing about a number of industries and has developed an interest for the gambling market in the UK.