Australia: NRL eyes US sports betting market

The NRL is planning to expand its ventures in the US market.
The NRL is planning to expand its ventures in the US market.

The National Rugby League plans to host two round-one games in Las Vegas next year.

Australia.- The National Rugby League (NRL) is looking at how it can benefit from the growing sports betting market in the US. NRL executives are planning to travel to Las Vegas next month to close a deal to host two round-one games there.

The United States has one of the fastest-growing sports betting markets, with Colin Smith of advisory firm Global Media and Sports estimating the legal sports betting market to already be worth about US$20bn (AU$30bn) a year just five years after the end of nationwide gambling prohibition. The NRL hopes to establish a presence to gain revenue via exclusivity options with broadcasters and sponsorships with operators.

According to The Guardian, the NRL’s expansion into the US is supported by many of Australia’s biggest sports gambling companies, although they would not benefit directly. International bets cannot be placed with Australian bookmakers, and different time zones may reduce the volume of bets.

However, Les Bernal, the director of the advocacy group Stop Predatory Gambling and Campaign for Gambling-Free Kids, has raised concerns about the NRL’s plans. Bernal said the NRL would profit from the gambling losses of the American people through the sale of statistics from their games to predatory gambling operators.

While US gambling companies might partner with the NRL to establish a presence in the US market, it is unlikely they would use this as a stepping stone to enter the Australian market.

See also: Australian senator calls for ban on gambling ads on match-day jerseys

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