All Bets Off: NRL Ends Sponsorship Talks With Waterhouse, Rethinks Gaming Ties
Bookmaker Tom Waterhouse's bid to become an official sponsor to the National Rugby League competition "is dead in the water," according to Lisa Davies of the BRISBANE TIMES. Both parties are "walking away from negotiations" on a deal that was set to cost the bookmaker A$50M ($49M) over five years. NRL's Strategy GM Shane Mattiske said the league had "failed to reach agreement around terms with Tom Waterhouse." Earlier this year, Waterhouse outbid the nation's leading wagering company, Tabcorp, "to become the preferred bidder for an official sponsor title." The failure of this deal "will not affect Waterhouse's deal with Channel Nine." Mattiske said that the decision by the network to put the bookie on its sports panel to spruik the betting odds "had tested the NRL's own guidelines" (BRISBANE TIMES, 5/20).
A DIFFICULT BET: In Sydney, Proszenko & Aston reported the NRL's decision to reconsider its relationship with the gaming industry comes as Waterhouse was branded ''gutless'' after refusing for the second time to "front a parliamentary inquiry into the promotion of gambling in sport." NRL spokesperson John Brady said, ''It was a case where we were in discussions but the terms weren't concluded. We have not signed any alternate sponsor at this stage." New NRL CEO Dave Smith was "instrumental in the decision to reconsider the deal" with Waterhouse (SYDNEY MORNING HERALD, 5/21).