Off the Wall

I hope the NRL is watching closely the unfolding betting scandal arising from the farcical Danny Green title fight in Perth on Wednesday night.

Apparently bookmakers face a $1 million payout on a betting plunge - and almost certainly a sting - when Green knocked out a hopeless opponent in the first round of the fight.

Between 7AM on Wednesday, and the fight's commencement, Green's price for a first round win dropped from $10.25 to $1.07. Most betting agencies had stopped betting on a first round knockout before the fight started...but they still face a $1 million payout.

The argument that this could not happen in rugby league is nonsense.

When I last checked there are well over 40 betting combinations available on just about every NRL match. Some agencies offer even more, and all offer betting during the match...first try, half time score, next try etc. And you can even bet on the Toyota Cup.

And the sports betting agencies are rapidly gaining an influential role as club sponsors, and radio and television broadcast sponsors.

Betting on sports other than horse racing is escalating...and rugby league is leading the way.

The "return" to the game from what is being invested on it is poor. That has to change.

But what also needs to change is the "hands off" approach to the NRL, and sports administrators, to the impact of sports betting on our code.

The "sting" - which is what I call it - on the day the Storm were sent to the bottom of the premiership table will look like small cheese when the rorters decide to target an NRL premiership fixture.

And if it is done carefully...and not in the haphazard way the plunge took place on the fight on Wednesday night...it may remain undetected. It is only when there is a substantial one off plunge happens that officials seem to take notice.

That is simply not good enough. Officials need to have in place a process that monitors betting trends and plunges, so that referees can be warned, and rorters detected much more easily.

At the knowledge that detection is likely is a deterrent.

I am not a fan of betting on rugby league or team sport generally - but if it is going to continue to grow it must be monitored by the game's officials.

As a follower of horse racing, I know just how comprehensive the monitoring of betting is. Sure, what is invested on horse racing is many times what is invested on rugby league. But betting on the horses is growing by just a percent or two a year - on rugby league it is growing something over 20 per cent annually.

Rugby league is a sitting duck for a well planned plunge. And when it happens, the integrity of the game will suffer.

Boxing does not have much credibility left - but even today's massive media coverage must worry boxing officials.

If we are to continue to have sports betting - and the demise of one Kevin Rudd eases the regulatory or control threat to online betting - then we have to have in place the supervision that deters rorts, and detects them when they happen.

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