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Betfair and National Rugby League strike deal

(Photo by Brett Hemmings/Getty Images)

Betfair has agreed a long-awaited deal with Australia’s National Rugby League that allows the betting platform to host wagering on the competition.

The Sydney Morning Herald reported that, announcing the deal, Betfair joined other sports betting companies operating in Australia in complaining about the high fees the NRL is charging them. Talks between Betfair and the NRL in February about a deal ahead of the 2020 season broke down over the issue of the fees.

Betfair Australia’s chief executive Tim Moore-Barton said his company’s agreement with the NRL was, “four times more expensive than the AFL”. As a result, the platform is increasing the commission it charges customers.

According to the Sydney Morning Herald report, Australian gambling industry sources say the NRL’s fees are the highest of any sport in the country. The sources warn that Australian betting platforms have little incentive to promote their NRL products, and punters could turn to offshore operators to bet on the matches as a result.

“Unfortunately, their product fee model singles out high-volume, low-margin operators such as a betting exchange,” Moore-Barton said. Betfair is a betting exchange.

On a more positive note, Moore-Barton said: “We applaud the NRL for the incredible work that has gone on during lockdown to secure the NRL’s future and to bring the season back to its fans at the earliest moment possible.”

The deal between the two companies comes as the NRL prepares to restart its 2020 season following the Covid-19 shutdown, which kicked in after only two rounds. The season is to restart this weekend.

Peter V’landys, chairman of the Australian Rugby League Commission, which oversees the NRL, has a history of battles with Betfair. In his former role as chief executive of horse racing body Racing New South Wales, he also clashed with the company over the fees it paid and the commissions it charged.