South Sydney’s Las Vegas trip criticized given NRL anti-gambling funds

The South Sydney Rabbitohs is under the spotlight due to its seeming double standards on anti-gambling.

The club recently agreed to participate in the NRL’s season-opener double-header in Las Vegas. The appearance has been criticized since South Sydney received funds from the Reclaim the Game initiative to moderate sports betting.

Anti-gambling campaigners have deemed the situation laughable. Previously, the club was named among the four participants to appear at the Allegiant Stadium besides Sea Eagles, Roosters, and Broncos.

According to the betting news, Peter V’landys, the chair of the Australian Rugby League Commission, talked about the situation in May. Peter stated that opening the season in Las Vegas can develop new gambling and broadcast markets in the US.

The chair also said that rugby league was ideal to offer wagering content to Americans in different timezones. The NRL will receive a cut of the bets made on the licensed betting outlets. 

As for the Reclaim the Game initiative, only teams throughout five codes get sponsored. These include the NRL’s Western Sydney Wanderers, Macarthur, and Canterbury-Bankstown in the A-League. Similarly, Big Bash League clubs Swans, Sydney Sixers, and Sydney Thunder in the AFL are also sponsored.

Essentially, this sponsorship offers the team money they would have otherwise earned from gambling companies.

That is why the latest move by South Sydney is being heavily criticized. According to the chief executive of the Alliance for Gambling Reform, Carol Bennett, it mocks the commitment to reduce gambling harm.

A club cannot be a part of the gambling promotion and then promote the Reclaim the Game initiative within a week. It does not work that way, said Carol Bennett.

The South Sydney Rabbitohs entered the deal back in 2022 when 78% of their fans agreed about excessive gambling advertisements. At the time, Blake Solly, the chief executive of Rabbitohs, said that the campaign could reduce the community’s exposure to sports betting.

While a spokesperson from the Rabbitohs, has stated that the trip to Las Vegas didn’t pose any harm, the move is still under fire from all directions. It remains to be seen how the authorities take the situation forward, but it will not be an easy sail for the Rabbitohs.

Joseph Watkins is an avid gambler and also contributes the in-depth & most recent Las Vegas casino news stories. He joins as a news-editor recently with almost two years of experience in sports news writing.

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