Two teams from the National Rugby League in Australia, namely the Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs and the South Sydney Rabbitohs, have opposed sports betting advertisements, refusing to receive sponsorships from gambling companies.
The Bulldogs and Rabbitohs Want to Reclaim the Game
The two teams’ decision is in line with the Reclaim the Game movement which seeks to change the notion that betting should be an integral part of professional sports competitions. The Bulldogs and the Rabbitohs are by far two of the most influential NRL teams to reject betting sponsorships. Natalie Wright, the director of the office of responsible gambling, was delighted by the teams’ choice.
“We are so pleased to see the Bulldogs and Rabbitohs reclaim the game in the advertising spaces they control. They are leading the way in the NRL by calling time on sports betting sponsorships. We hope that other clubs and the NRL itself will follow suit so that fans can get back to what sport is all about.”
Responsible Gambling Office director Natalie Wright
Wright said she hopes that more NRL clubs will follow the two teams’ example so that “fans can get back to what sport is all about.” She noted that the National Rugby League is something much more than merely a betting discipline and also wishes to see a league that is less oversaturated with gambling marketing campaigns. Wright also noted that a decrease in the visibility of betting advertisements will likely lead to a reduction in gambling harm among sports fans.
The Teams Believe Sports is Much More than a Gambling Discipline
Representatives of the teams themselves have also spoken about the decision. Blake Solly, the chief executive officer of the South Sydney Rabbitohs said that the club’s participation in the Reclaim the Game movement is a way for it to show concern for its fans and protect them from gambling harm. Solly noted that research has demonstrated the harmful effects of irresponsible gambling and the devastation it can cause to families.
By renouncing gambling sponsorships, the Rabbitohs hope to send a positive message to the supporters of the club and the community as a whole.
Solly’s sentiments are echoed by Aaron Warburton, the chief executive officer of the Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs. Warburton emphasized that the competition itself, the rivalries between the teams, the sportsmanship, the physical prowess of the players, and the personalities within professional rugby are what truly matter.
“We believe that you should be able to watch and enjoy our great game with your friends and families without the constant advertising from sports betting companies.”
Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs CEO Aaron Warburton
The Reclaim the Game movement is gaining traction in Australia. As of now, nine cricket teams from the A-League have opted to join the initiative and try to promote gambling-free sports. In December, two basketball teams also joined Reclaim the Game. Several football teams have also decided to refrain from gambling sponsorships.