NRL South Sydney Rabbitohs: Star City Casino Partnership!

Written by:
Greg Tingle
Published on:
Jan/28/2011
NRL South Sydney Rabbitohs

G'day punters, journos, high rollers, sports nuts, casino and football team owners, entertainment news junkies, politicians, insiders, outsiders, politicians, journos... one and all. Today we probe the new and exciting deal between the legendary Aussie NRL footy team, the South Sydney Rabbitohs and the "partnership" with Tabcorp's Star City Casino.

This follow the recent deal between the NRL's Penrith Panthers and Centrebet, with the teams football ground now known as Centrebet Stadium, in a $5 million dollar deal, tipped to secure the financial future of the club. Other clubs and plugging into the lucrative gambling and betting dollars, with more win - wins on the way, but at what cost? Can NRL and betting co exist in a sustainable fashion, without more sports betting scandals on the way.

Centrebet Stadium, PartyGaming Cricket Ground, Paddy Power Park, Betfair Entertainment Centre?! Who know what may be around the corner. Media Man http://www.mediamanint.com and Gambling911 kick a goal between the posts with this special report...

The tie ins between the National Rugby League and gambling, sports betting et al, continue this week with South Sydney celebrity owner Russell Crowe, tipped to present the Bunnies' new 5-year, multimillion-dollar sponsorship deal with Tabcorp's Star City.

A press conference including Crowe has been scheduled for the Pyrmont's Star City. Souths also yesterday announced the bookmaker, Luxbet (linked to Tabcorp), as a corporate partner for 2011. The online agency will run in house tipping service Bunnybet, taking over from Betezy, which launched the gambling website portal as a joint venture with the Rabbitohs in 2009, in a media campaign pushed far and wide by the Media Man agency, which covers the sector in a fair and balanced fashion, and known to focus on the positives, while also doing hard nosed coverage on the potential dangerous of excess gambling - betting.

The Souths Rabbitohs deals comes only 5 days after the Penrith Panthers announced their Australia-first venue naming-rights contract with a sports betting and gambling company, rebranding their home ground Centrebet Stadium Penrith. The northern beaches based Manly Sea Eagles will also this year have the Centrebet logo on their jumper. No word yet what's happening to the Full Tilt Poker logo that was on East's Rooters players shorts.

This bush tucker bag of NRL - gambling news comes at the same time that a high-profile NRL player is battling a huge problem, dropping at least $1500 a week at Star City. In addition, a police investigation, as well as New South Wales Crime Commission hearings, is not yet complete into irregular betting patterns reported in last year's round-24 match between North Queensland Cowboys and  and Canterbury Bulldogs aka 'The Doggies' in Townsville. 'The Doggies' still struggle to live down a football betting and sex scandal from years ago, with the obvious sexual reference tie in off 'Doggie style', a often preferred sexual position of women.

Souths' Rabbitohs new commercial deals also equate to a bit of a back down from Crowe and co-owner Peter Holmes a Court since they proposed to to remove the pokies aka 'one armed bandits' from Souths Leagues Club in 2007. "There is a time and a place for gaming and I don't believe that South Sydney is the time or the place," Holmes a Court said way back then. The club has faced serious cash flow challenges, not to mention a poor win rate over the past years, despite having a club history second to none.

Current Souths chief executive Shane Richardson would not comment on the Star City sponsorship yesterday. NRL chief executive David Gallop mentioned that many of the NRL clubs have corporate partnerships with betting firms and the NRL itself is aligned with TAB Sportsbet, for which that company pays a product fee of 5 per cent of profit on rugby league punting.

Overseas operators such as PartyGaming, Paddy Power and others are said to be keen to get in on the action, and in the meantime the international headlines add fuel to the fire.

Betting agencies associated with the game must sign integrity agreements that insist on co-operation.

"Gambling on sport is as old as sport itself. We have to accept that being able to bet on a game adds a very enjoyable aspect to viewing," Gallop said. "The arrangements that we now have with betting agencies put us in a lot better position not only in terms of being compensated for the use of our intellectual property but also in our ability to access information about irregular betting. We've worked hard with all the sports to get ourselves to that position and indeed some of the matters that have been investigated and are currently being investigated - those investigations have only been possible because of those arrangements. Our ability to get to the bottom of issues … is greatly improved by those arrangements."

Gallop, however, listened to concerns that issues such as "spot betting" were a concern, as was hard core promotion. NRL broadcaster Channel Nine has been criticised for the past 12 months for its commentators' plugging betting options during broadcasts of the game.

"In terms of the promotion of gambling we do have restrictions. Individual players can't endorse individual agencies. There are elements that are concerning such as types of bets and aggressive promotion."

'Gambling Man' (MM tag) Gallop said he was not alarmed by reporting of players with gambling problems. "Our players are a cross-section of the community and there are going to be players with social problems, be they gambling , alcohol or drugs," he said.

Media Man and Gambling911 will continue to revel more details as they come to hand, so don't change your dial.

Australia Gets Gambling Arenas; Penrith Panthers First Cab Of The Rank; South Sydney Or Who Next?...

With Australia being in the world's top 10 gambling nations, it shouldn't shock or surprise that we're tipped to soon have a number of sporting arenas and grounds named after gambling and gaming companies, both national and international brands. Yep, money will talk where B.S sometimes walks. James Packer's Betfair is understood to build upon their Betfair Park branding, Europe's PartyGaming is keen, and currently Centrebet looks to be leading the charge, with many insiders saying its a case of when, not if, for the household name brand. Centrebet already has significant branding, thanks in part to a swag of TV and online adverts, plus who can forget the Centrebet branded part of Network Nine's 'The Footy Show'.

The gambling companies already have a number of key targets, and many cash strapped and / or cash handy NRL team and home grounds are near the top of the hit list. For instance NRL team, The Penrith Panthers, are seriously considering having their home stadium named Centrebet Stadium. We kid you not punters. If the deal goes through, they will make history becoming the first major Australian sporting team to snatch a betting firm as the naming-rights partner for a playing venue. Horse Racing already has some naming rights deals with tracks and in the mix such as Betfair Park and then you have races named after gambling brands such as the Lasseters Cup, Lasseters known for its hotel - casino up in Australia's top end. The forecast Betfair deal comes as a police  continue to probe the NRL gambling scandal that from last season following a number of "irregular" wagers was picked up in the Canterbury Bulldogs VS North Queensland Cowboys match up. The Panthers, Centrebet and a swag of gambling companies, have rather pissed off the gambling and gaming haters, who continues to get organised into lobby groups. A Media Man spokesperson such "Many people in and out of news media and gaming, the general public, are starting to get really pissed off at the gaming, gambling and sports betting haters.

The bible bashers. Who do they think they are trying to push their beliefs onto others. Many Australians just love a punt, and that's the way it is. Some of the gaming haters have strong ties to church groups and there appears to be some sort of brainwashing system going on. They keep discussing the 'evils of gambling'. I mean, seriously, come on. People know not to over-do it on on the slots, sports events, poker and the like, but the haters keep trying to be the thought police. Gambling companies in Australia have a very high focus on responsible gambling with warnings everywhere. It's great to see the gambling and gaming industry place so much focus on safe better. The sports stadiums will be great for business, , but no one is forcing anyone to have a bet. It's a personal decision, as it always has been. 2011 is going to be a very exciting year for punters, especially those who like to have a bet of sports matches, and television and online website portals and brands will bring it all together nicely". Back to the first prime target #1...The modest 22,500-capacity sports ground, owned by Penrith City Council, was in a past life known as CUA Stadium.

What's up is that the club's contract with the Brisbane financial services company has expired, and negotiations between Panthers, the footy club and Centrebet have been taking place, even prior to Christmas about renaming the stadium. Other clubs and stadiums have also caught the buzz and are opening chequebooks and crunching the numbers. The first of its kind business agreement between the club and Centrebet is just about a done deal, and ink is expecting to try on contracts sooner rather than later, possibly within a fortnight. An exciting, if not controversial type of announcement is fully expected by the Panthers in the coming week. Sports and gambling commentators are quick to point out that Penrith already has ties to Centrebet, the gambling brand being lit up across the top of the video screen at the stadium. This kind of exposure has also been very good for their mobile - hand held device sector. Anti-gambling campaigner Senator Nick Xenophon is especially unhappy with the development of the gambling branded sports stadiums in Australia.

He went on recent with: "How can a footy code currently embroiled in a betting scandal possibly allow a stadium to be named after a betting agency? There was a time when rugby league was all about the game. Now it's all about the odds, and that is ruining the game". Over the last couple of years the NRL (and AFL) has watered down its laws and regulations relating to clubs' deals and partnerships with gambling - sports betting firms, allowing them to be branded on footy jerseys for a virgin time. Cronulla Sharks have sponsor PokerStars (.net) on their jersey sleeves while cashed up Manly Sea Eagles are tipped to have Centrebet's signage on the back of their jerseys this season after a widely reported $1 million plus deal with the Northern Territory based betting outfit announced just before Christmas. Yep, it looks like a few clubs and stadiums will be getting their Christmas presents and will have lots to celebrate, while the gambling haters will be spewing in Grinch like fashion. The National Rugby League of course also has corporate ties with TAB Sportsbet, and is understood to snatch a 5% "product fee" via the company's rugby league betting profit. NRL spokesman John Brady advised he would not comment on individual clubs' sponsorship agreements but maintained there was no concern about the prospect of gambling agencies assuming naming rights for the game's venues, at least from his take on the situation.

"It's an area that was relaxed last year. As such there are a number of betting sponsorships that are available to clubs in terms of jerseys and other opportunities," Brady said. He advised any and all betting firms involved with the NRL via sponsorship of clubs were made to sign "integrity agreements" to ensure transparency. The majority of NRL clubs now have corporate deals with betting agencies. Centrebet sponsors five teams: Penrith, Manly, Parramatta, St George Illawarra and North Queensland. "Comon' Betfair and PartyGaming, pull you're finger out", a Media Man sports journalist was overheard shouting when he found out the news of Centrebet's ongoing infiltration of the sport. Penrith's stadium pending name change has been intertwined we understand by some to the financial problems that have hit the football club's parent body, Panthers Group. The licensed club is no longer quite the licence to print money as it was in the 90s Some audited figures about to do public by the conclusion of the month are expected to show black and white confirmation of a Murdoch - News Limited news story of last February that said Panthers were due to report a rather embarrassing net loss of $11 million bucks. Panthers are not afraid to speak on the record about their on and off field performance, which has seen better days.

Ric Simpson, Panthers Group chief exec since last July, said a culture change and "renewal of process" across Panthers clubs had improved their situation. Analysts question that was a PR line or absolute truth. Mind you, we don't blame club for trying to focus on positives. "We're probably looking at reducing that loss by somewhere in the order of $8-$9 million," Simpson said. A Media Man spokesperson said "At this stage of the gaming the overseas trend of seeing sports groups and football teams pick up sponsorship and strong branding for gambling, gaming... sports betting companies looks to be moving full speed ahead down under in Australia.

Centrebet might become the Bwin of Australia. PartyGaming is said to be currently crunching numbers to see if an Australian sports ground deal is viable. They already have a Aussie Millions former champion sponsored by their poker brand and a couple of Aussie poker players signed up, so anything is possible. James Packer's Betfair, a direct competitor of Centrebet is not likely to take the situation lying down either. Betfair is 50% Packer owned and wants to keep building their sports betting brand, as well as opening up many online casino games in Australia, poker and more. Could an Australian sports stadium ever be known as PartyGaming stadium or WPT Stadium? Not overnight, but never say never, stranger things have happened. It's all going to add a lot of money into the game and business of sport and entertainment, and already our firm is starting to experience some positive spin off benefits. It's all very exciting and profitable".

NRL Star Gambling Habit May Be Out Of Control...

He's a well known NRL footy star with a massive gambling problem. The star is a regular at Star City , where he often loses $1500 in a week. Mates are concerned. He's been asking his friends for money. He has never paid back loans, and friends are  refusing. Teammates often accompany him on his frequents to Star City. No photographs are allowed, which sits well with the players. He was recently booted out of a watering hole after a big night on the piss. Media Man and Gambling911 hope this serves as a wake-up call before a promising career is ruined. Please bet and drink responsibly, and remember, the both often don't mix. Bet with you head, not over it! If the gambling stops being fun, it's probably time to stop. Have fun and good luck.

Crowe, Holmes A Court, Richardson, Gallop, Murdoch (both of you sirs), Gyngell and Turnbull and a few others - you're throw of the football and dice!

Take the time to research and learn games before placing down money

Media Man http://www.mediamanint.com Casino News Media and Gambling911 are website portals. Not casinos as such, however are recognised as world leading websites that cover the sector and act as central points to games, news, reviews and more.

Readers... er, punters, how did you like our report? Will Australian ever get to #1 position for gambling?  Tell us in the forum. 

If you have a bet, please bet with your head, not over it, and for God's sake, have fun.

*Greg Tingle is a special contributor for Gambling911

*Media Man http://www.mediamanint.com is primarily a media, publicity and internet portal development company. Gaming is just one of a dozen sectors covered

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