OFF THE WALL<br>Sports betting to pay up - finally

Notwithstanding the reservations I expressed last week about betting on rugby league matches, indications that both Tabcorp (owner of the NSW and Victorian TAB operations) and Betfair, are to enter into agreements with the NRL to sponsor rugby league is welcome.

Rugby league has not been getting anymore than a pittance from the millions (last year it was $140 million) bet on NRL matches with licensed operators. On the other hand, the Australian Football League signed agreements last year that are now delivering over $1 million a year to the AFL.

It is worth noting that betting on the AFL is around $120 million - substantially less than the more than $140 million bet on the NRL - and that NRL betting is one of the fastest growing betting avenues.

Tabcorp are likely to do a sponsorship deal with the NRL while Betfair (which cannot advertise in NSW) will enter into a product agreement.

The NRL has been rightly reluctant to embrace sports betting without firm agreements with the betting agencies that include revenue benefits. The NRL has also had some wider concerns about the impact of betting on matches - but the NRL clearly accepts it is here to stay, and it is the fastest growing betting area in Australia.

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