Betting giant pulls NRL markets in fee protest


The Herald revealed last month the NRL had proposed a super tax be levied on bookmakers to offer markets on some of its highest profile matches such as State of Origin clashes and the grand final.

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It is a product fee model often used by horse racing regulators who cash in on wagering on marquee race meetings during the autumn and spring carnivals.

But the NRL’s stance on product fees – which wagering insiders claim would see it become the highest taxed domestic sport – has infuriated the chiefs of Australia’s biggest betting companies who are still to strike a deal with League Central.

The Eels-Bulldogs season opener will be played on March 12.

Tension between the parties is nothing new and the NRL was forced to roll over a temporary accord for several months last year when it couldn’t agree on a permanent fee structure before the beginning of the 2019 season.

It eventually settled on a tax model with bookmakers just before the opening State of Origin clash in Brisbane.

But the one-year deal, backdated to the start of the season, meant NRL executive and bookmakers would have to return to the negotiating table before the start of this season. And again the parties are nowhere near finding common ground.

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Yet it’s unprecedented for one betting giant to take a stance such as Betfair’s and pull its NRL offering altogether. It said it is “hopeful a fair agreement will be in place before the start of the 2020 season”.

Wagering sources have told the Herald most bookmakers are yet to sign up to the NRL’s new proposed fee structure, but most of those are still offering markets on pre-season matches such as the All-Stars game on the Gold Coast.

They claim the NRL’s new agreement would deliver the code an extra windfall in the millions per year should it be signed off.

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