NRL to capitalise on legal US sports betting market

By Peter Lynch

The National Rugby League (NRL), Australia and New Zealand’s leading rugby league club competition, plans to capitalise on the legalised US sports betting market, as reported by The Age.

Domestic sports wagering in Australia brought in AU$16m (US$11.8m) in 2017, with that number rising to AU$40m during the past league financial year amid the Covid-19 lockdown. But experts believe that cashing in on the US market could result in an increase of more than 50% of the code’s current wagering income within the next five years.

Australian Rugby League Commission (ARLC) Director Gary Weiss has been tasked with developing wagering products for the US market, with the aim of attracting overseas customers to bet on the NRL. 

ARLC Chairman Peter V’landys meanwhile believes it is a fantastic opportunity for the competition, noting that he previously raised the idea when he first took up the role. He also explained the idea to Chairs and Chief Executives of all 16 league clubs in a conference call last week.

“I raised this when I first became chair, that we were going to look at the US market of sport,” said V’landys. “We can see extraordinary potential in it.

“There was a $500 billion-plus illegal market. Well, each state is now starting to legalise sports betting and all the wagering operators are frantic, casinos are buying wagering companies because it’s going to be the big play in America.

“We want to get in there and there are various ways of doing it.”

The Commission will reportedly consult BetEasy Founder Matt Tripp, who is currently Chairman and Co-owner of Melbourne Storm.

When asked by The Herald if the idea could be successful, Tripp said: “Most definitely, if they handle it right they could tap into a very large and growing market that would see them generate incremental revenues from wagering that they didn’t expect to get at this time two or three years ago.

“Given everyone sees the US as a wagering gold rush, there is certainly an opportunity for the NRL to leverage their assets, package them up and distribute them to US wagering operators.”

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