NRL pledges fresh tax start

Business News

The NRL has scrapped a controversial proposal for charging bookmakers to bet on rugby league matches as the parties prepare to go back to the negotiating table this week.

A day after Fairfax Media revealed tensions between the NRL and the country’s largest wagering operators were near boiling point over a new gambling tax for the sport, the NRL has withdrawn its previous hardline conditions in order to start afresh.

League Central wrote to concerned parties to parties telling them its previous terms would be abandoned after months of resistance from bookmakers, who had argued the NRL would be the most heavily taxed domestic sport under the mooted changes.

It is understood the NRL is set to provide a revised policy to oddsmakers by the end of the week.

In the meantime, temporary integrity agreements between the NRL and bookmakers who are licensed to bet on its matches are set to be rolled over for a third straight month.

The NRL can now revisit whether it insists on collecting fees under the terms of any new agreement for matches spanning back to the opening round.

There will be much consternation over whether a product levy can be agreed before the opening State of Origin clash, scheduled for Melbourne on June 6.

Origin clashes are among the biggest betting events on the Australian sporting calendar – excluding the three codes of racing – and helped rugby league to be the most popular Australian sport betting product, topping AFL, in a recent Roy Morgan gambling report.

Given the vast amount of money traditionally wagered on NSW and Queensland matches, a new integrity agreement signed before the start of the Origin series could deliver a minor windfall for the NRL.

NRL chief executive Todd Greenberg was set to be dragged into the protracted talks, but will now give his senior staff more time to design a new fee structure that may be more palatable to Australia’s wagering chiefs.