gambling and your team – revised

revised 13/10/2015

In March 2012, I published my original “Gambling & Your Team” article pulling together a list of all the gambling links and connections that permeate the major sporting codes in Australia: AFL, NRL, A-League and SuperRugby.

The response was immediate. It turns out a lot of people really do care if their team has poker machines, or a sports betting partnership. But three and a half years is a long time, and there have been a lot of changes in sponsorship, gaming operations and so on.

So recently I re-visited the list, and spent some time updating it where necessary. There have been a lot of changes, some of them good, many of them less than good.

Welcome to the revised Gambling & Your Team list, current as of 13 October 2015.

Sport and gambling. These days, the two rarely seem to be too far from each other. If it isn’t corruption and match-fixing making the headlines, it’s live odds during broadcasts and stadium naming rights. Professional sportsmen are banned by their leagues from placing a wager on their sport. Internet betting provides access to sports markets around the world. And everyone knows how invested our major codes have become in the business of running poker machines.

But just how firmly entrenched has gambling become in the teams we follow? Do you know how committed your club is to the gambling dollar? Does private ownership make a difference, or is betting the only course for financial stability in our sport?

How involved in gambling is YOUR team?

NOTE: This is a living list. I’ll keep updating the details, but if you spot anything I’ve missed, or have got wrong, please let me know. Some of the teams concerned are a tad reluctant to make public all of the relevant information, so every little bit helps.

AFL

The AFL has an uneasy relationship with gambling. AFL players, coaches and staff are banned from betting on AFL games, and the league has expressed their concerns over live odds and exotic bets. This hasn’t stopped them from having corporate partnerships with a string of sports betting companies; the latest of these is Crown Casino’s new betting venture Crownbet.

It’s interesting to note that the AFL didn’t actually sign up with Crownbet. They signed up with BetEzy, who were subsequently bought out (for next to nothing) by Crown.

The AFL has in the past expressed their reservations about poker machine reform, although they fell short of openly opposing any change. They have also publicly stated they would like to see clubs divest themselves of poker machines.

There are no privately owned AFL teams.

Adelaide

revised 13/10/2015:

The Crows currently have no poker machines. They recently discussed buying an established poker machine venue (hotel) as a revenue stream but this has not eventuated. The idea was put forward by ex-CEO Steven Trigg, who is now with Carlton.

Adelaide has no discernible association with any online sports betting companies. They do have a sponsorship deal with Adelaide Casino.

Brisbane

revised 13/10/2015:

The Lions’ social club, LIONS@springwood, has 200 poker machines in its gaming lounge. The club is the “official community headquarters” of the Brisbane team.

Brisbane has no discernible association with any online sports betting companies or casinos.

Carlton

revised 13/10/2015:

The Blues have five poker machine venues: Club Laverton, the Royal Oak in Richmond, Vic Inn in Williamstown, the Manningham Club and the Yarra Valley Country Club. The first four of these are operated by Carlton FC Ltd, while the Yarra Valley Country Club is operated by Yarra Valley Country Club Inc. Both companies include Carlton General Manager Martin Shannon (and several others) on their lists of approved associates.

Carlton now has more poker machine venues (five) than any other AFL club. This dubious honour was previously held by Collingwood (four).

The Royal Oak had previously been run by Richmond and the Vic Inn by the Western Bulldogs; in 2010 ALH boss and former Carlton director Bruce Mathieson terminated their leases and handed them over to Carlton. The Manningham Club had previously been partnered with the Brisbane Lions.

New Carlton CEO Steven Trigg (formerly of Adelaide) has previously favoured using poker machines for revenue.

Carlton has a sponsorship deal with online sports betting company William Hill.

Collingwood

revised 13/10/2015:

The Magpies currently have two poker machine venues: The Club, and The Coach & Horses.

A third venue, the Diamond Creek Tavern, was a massive loss-making exercise and was eventually sold by Collingwood back to its original owners.

A fourth venue, The International, was closed with the original intention of moving its poker machines to a new venue, the East Ridge Club. However, the East Ridge Club hasn’t opened and The International has re-opened under the ownership of local club Vermont.

Collingwood has no discernible association with any online sports betting companies or casinos. They formerly had a deal with online sports betting company Sportbet but this has now ended.

Collingwood is one of six Victorian AFL clubs to sign the Victorian Responsible Gambling Foundation (VRGF) Responsible Gambling Charter. In doing so, they agree not to undertake deals or partnerships with sports betting companies. However, the charter does not preclude them from owning/operating poker machines.

Essendon

revised 13/10/2015:

The Bombers have two poker machine venues: the Melton Country Club and the Essendon Football & Community Sporting Club.

Essendon has no discernible association with any online sports betting companies or casinos. They formerly had a deal with online sports betting company Centrebet but this has now ended.

Essendon is one of six Victorian AFL clubs to sign the VRGF Responsible Gambling Charter. In doing so, they agree not to undertake deals or partnerships with sports betting companies. However, the charter does not preclude them from owning/operating poker machines.

Fremantle

revised 13/10/2015:

The Dockers, being a West Australian club, have no poker machine venues.

Fremantle has a sponsorship deal with online betting company TABTouch. The club also has a sponsorship deal with Burswood Casino (Crown Perth).

Geelong

revised 13/10/2015:

The Cats have two poker machine venues: the Geelong Football Club (located onsite at Kardinia Park) and The Brook On Sneydes.

Geelong has no discernible association with any online sports betting companies or casinos.

Gold Coast

revised 13/10/2015:

The Suns have no poker machine venues.

Gold Coast do have a strong association with local club the Southport Sharks, listing them as a patron partner. The Sharks earn considerable revenue from poker machines.

And Gold Coast have recently investigated buying an established poker machine venue as a means of revenue; however, this has not happened yet.

Gold Coast has a sponsorship deal with online sports betting company UBet.

Greater Western Sydney

revised 13/10/2015:

The Giants have no poker machine venues. They have recently investigated buying an established poker machine venue as a means of revenue; however, this has not happened yet.

Greater Western Sydney has a sponsorship deal with an online sports betting company, but there seems to be some confusion as to which one! The Giants website lists ACT TAB as a partner, whereas sports betting company Ladbrokes states on their website that they are partners of the Giants.

Hawthorn

revised 13/10/2015:

The Hawks have two poker machine venues: Vegas at Waverley Gardens (operated by Hawthorn FC Ltd) and the West Waters Hotel (operated by CSJV Nominees Pty Ltd). CSJV Nominees is essentially Hawthorn FC, with a few extra people.

Vegas at Waverley Gardens is the highest-earning poker machine club venue of any of the Victorian AFL clubs.

Hawthorn has no discernible association with any online sports betting companies or casinos.

Hawthorn is one of six Victorian AFL clubs to sign the VRGF Responsible Gambling Charter. In doing so, they agree not to undertake deals or partnerships with sports betting companies. However, the charter does not preclude them from owning/operating poker machines.

Melbourne

revised 13/10/2013:

The Demons have two poker machine venues: Leighoak and The Bentleigh Club.

Melbourne has no discernible association with any online sports betting companies or casinos.

North Melbourne

revised 13/10/2015:

The Kangaroos have no poker machine venues, having handed back their licences several years ago. They also have no discernible association with any online betting companies or casinos.

North Melbourne have taken an anti-gambling stance. At one stage they signed a deal with World Vision, which precluded them from earning any future revenue from gambling for the duration of their association. That deal has now finished.

North Melbourne was the first of six Victorian AFL clubs to sign the VRGF Responsible Gambling Charter. In doing so, they agree not to undertake deals or partnerships with sports betting companies. However, the charter does not preclude them from owning/operating poker machines.

Port Adelaide

revised 13/10/2015:

The Power have two poker machine venues, The Port Club and the Prince of Wales.

Port Adelaide has a sponsorship deal with online sports betting company UBet. They also have a partnership with Adelaide Casino.

Port Adelaide is the only AFL club with poker machine, sports betting and casino partnerships.

Richmond

revised 13/10/2015:

The Tigers have one poker machine venue: the Wantirna Club. They formerly had a second venue, the Royal Oak, but in 2010 ALH boss and former Carlton director Bruce Mathieson terminated the lease and handed it over to Carlton.

Richmond has a sponsorship deal with online sports betting company SportsBet.

St Kilda

revised 13/10/2015:

The Saints have one poker machine venue: the St Kilda Football Social Club.

At one stage St Kilda were the public face of sports betting in the AFL, with Centrebet as their major sponsor. In recent years the Saints have moved away from this position, ending their partnership with Centrebet and taking on a lesser partnership with Ladbrokes. In October 2015 St Kilda signed the VRGF Responsible Gambling Charter and committed to ending their partnership with Ladbrokes by the end of the month.

Consequently, as of November 2015 St Kilda has no discernible association with any online sports betting companies or casinos.

St Kilda is one of six Victorian AFL clubs to sign the VRGF Responsible Gambling Charter. In doing so, they agree not to undertake deals or partnerships with sports betting companies. However, the charter does not preclude them from owning/operating poker machines.

Sydney

revised 13/10/2015:

The Swans have no poker machine venues.

Sydney has no discernible association with any online sports betting companies. They do have a partnership with The Star Casino.

West Coast

revised 13/10/2015:

The Eagles, being a West Australian club, have no poker machine venues.

West Coast has a sponsorship deal with online betting company TABTouch. The club also has a sponsorship deal with Burswood Casino (Crown Perth).

Western Bulldogs

revised 13/10/2015:

The Bulldogs have two poker machine venues: Club Leeds and the Peninsula Club (formerly the Dromana/Red Hill RSL).

The Bulldogs were building a third venue, Club Edgewater, which experienced considerable opposition from local government. This deal recently fell through (in August 2015) and the Bulldogs have withdrawn their involvement.

The Western Bulldogs have no discernible association with any online sports betting companies or casinos.

The Western Bulldogs are one of six Victorian AFL clubs to sign the VRGF Responsible Gambling Charter. In doing so, they agree not to undertake deals or partnerships with sports betting companies. However, the charter does not preclude them from owning/operating poker machines.

NRL

The NRL has a strong relationship with gambling. Many teams are financially dependent on poker machine revenue, and the league is a vocal opponent of any reform to the poker machine industry.

This was clearly highlighted during the 2011 finals series, when commentators Ray Warren and Phil Gould criticised poker machine reforms on-air just after half time in the Manly/Brisbane preliminary final.

NRL players, coaches and staff are banned from betting on NRL games.

The league does not have an official betting partner; earlier in 2015, the NRL signed a new deal with 16 sports betting agencies that sees the league get a share of betting turnover. The deal is reportedly worth an extra $10 million a year to the NRL.

The NRL is a mix of public ownership, private ownership and a blend of the two.

Brisbane

revised 13/10/2015:

The Broncos are the NRL’s only publicly listed club. The majority shareholder in the Broncos is News Limited.

The Broncos have one large poker machine venue: the Broncos Leagues Club. They have a sponsorship deal with online sports betting company William Hill.

Canberra

revised 13/10/2015:

The Raiders have direct control of three poker machine venues through the “Canberra Raiders Group”: the Canberra Raiders Sports Clubs in Belconnen, Gungahlin and Weston.

The “Canberra Raiders Group” also includes the Mawson Club, the Queanbeyan Leagues Club, the Toowoomba Sports Club and the Tuggeranong Valley Leagues Club. All of these run poker machines, and contribute financially to the Raiders.

The Raiders also have sponsorship deals with the Canberra Southern Cross Club, which also runs poker machines.

The Raiders have a sponsorship deal with the ACT TAB, as well as poker machine manufacturers Aristocrat and IGT.

Canterbury-Bankstown

revised 13/10/2015:

The Bulldogs have four poker machine venues: the Canterbury Leagues Club, the Lakemba Services Club, Belfield RSL and The Bay Sports Club.

They also have sponsorship arrangements with Bankstown RSL, Canterbury Hurlstone Park RSL, Earlwood Bardwell Park RSL and St Johns Park Bowling Club. All of these venues operate poker machines.

Canterbury has no discernible association with any online sports betting companies or casinos. They do have a sponsorship deal with eBet, who provide networking solutions for poker machines.

Cronulla-Sutherland

revised 13/10/2015:

The Sharks have one poker machine venue: the Cronulla-Sutherland Leages Club (“Sharkies”).

Cronulla also has a partnership with the Marlow Hotel Group, which operates a number of poker machine hotels including Bank Tavern, Intersection Hotel, Royal Hotel Carlton, Crossroads Hotel, The Oaks Hotel, The Rose and Crown, and The Coniston Hotel.

Cronulla has no discernible association with any online sports betting companies or casinos. They do have a sponsorship deal with poker machine manufacturer Aristocrat.

Gold Coast

revised 13/10/2015:

The Titans are a privately owned team. In 2015 the NRL stepped in and assumed ownership of the Titans after a massive drug scandal threatened to close the team down.

The Titans have sponsorship arrangements with a number of poker machine venues including Nerang RSL, The Seagulls Club, The Lennox Hotel, The Talle Surf Club and the Burleigh Bears Leagues Club.

Gold Coast has no discernible association with any online sports betting companies or casinos.

Manly-Warringah

revised 13/10/2015:

The Sea-Eagles are a privately owned team. Majority ownership is split between Penn Sport and Manly Warringah Rugby League Football Club Limited.

The Sea-Eagles have one poker machine venue: the Manly Leagues Club. They also have corporate partnerships with Harbord Diggers and the Brookvale Hotel, both of which operate poker machines.

Manly-Warringah also has a sponsorship arrangement with Redcape Hotel Group, which includes 29 hotels with poker machines.

Manly has a sponsorship deal with online betting company Bet365.

Melbourne

revised 13/10/2015:

The Storm are a privately owned team. In 2013 they were sold by News Limited to a private consortium led by Bart Campbell. One of the co-owners is Matt Tripp; more about that later.

Melbourne have one poker machine venue, the Kealba Hotel. They assumed ownership of this venue in 2015.

The Storm have a sponsorship deal with online sports betting company CrownBet, and are also sponsored by Crown Casino. They wear the Crown logo on the front of their playing strip.

Co-owner Matt Tripp is also the CEO of Crownbet.

Newcastle

revised 13/10/2015:

The Knights, a privately owned team, were bought in 2011 by Nathan Tinkler, who also own A-League team the Newcastle Jets. However, in 2014 the NRL took ownership of the Knights back from Tinkler following dire financial difficulties.

The Knights do not have direct control of a poker machine venue. They do have a sponsorship deal with the Wests Group, which includes Western Suburbs Leagues Club, Wests Bowling Club, Wests Mayfield, Wests Nelson Bay Diggers and Wests Cardiff; and a separate sponsorship deal with Sunnyside Tavern. All of these venues operate poker machines.

Newcastle has no discernible association with any online sports betting companies or casinos.

New Zealand

revised 13/10/2015:

The Warriors are a privately owned team. Majority ownership is held by businessmen Eric Watson and Sir Owen Glenn, although Glenn recently gifted his stake to a charitable trust as a result of legal action between himself and Watson.

The NZ Warriors have no poker machine venues. They do have sponsorship deals with SkyCity Casino and the NZ TAB.

North Queensland

revised 13/10/2015:

The Cowboys were owned by News Limited until just a few years ago, when they were sold to the Cowboys Leagues Club.

The Cowboys have one poker machine venue: the aforementioned Cowboys Leagues Club.

North Queensland has no discernible association with any online sports betting companies or casinos. They do have a partnership with poker machine manufacturer Aristocrat.

Parramatta

revised 13/10/2015:

The Eels have two poker machine venues: the Parramatta Leagues Club and the Viking Sports Club. They also have a sponsorship arrangement with St Johns Park Bowling Club, which operates poker machines.

Parramatta has a partnership arrangement with sports betting company UniBet.

The Eels also have a strong association with the Wentworthville Magpies in the NSW cup (local competition). Wentworthville derive considerable revenue from poker machines.

Penrith

revised 13/10/2015:

The Panthers were at one time the gambling heavyweights of the NRL. Their major sponsor was Centrebet, they played at Centrebet Stadium and through their owners the Panthers Group, were affiliated with 14 separate poker machine clubs.

That has changed in the last couple of years, largely through financial necessity. Panthers Group has been in financial difficulty, and has sold a number of their clubs. Centrebet has also been replaced by Oak and Pepper as major sponsors.

Currently, the Panthers Group operates six poker machine clubs under the Panthers banner:
* Panthers Penrith
* Panthers Bathhurst
* Panthers Glenbrook
* Panthers North Richmond
* Panthers Port Macquarie
* Panthers Wallacia

Panthers also have a sponsorship arrangement with St Johns Park Bowling Club.

Penrith has no discernible association with any online sports betting companies or casinos.

St George Illawarra

revised 13/10/2015:

The Dragons have two poker machine venues: the St George Leagues Club in Beverley Park, and the Steelers Club in Wollongong. They also have a partnership with Wests Illawarra.

St George Illawarra have a sponsorship deal with online betting company Bet365.

The Dragons also list poker machine companies Ainsworth and South Coast Gaming Machines in their Partner Directory.

South Sydney

revised 13/10/2015:

The Rabbitohs are a privately owned team. Majority ownership is held by actor Russell Crowe and Crown Casino boss James Packer. Packer bought his stake in the club from previous co-owner Peter Holmes a Court.

Holmes a Court and Crowe were originally determined to ensure that the Rabbitohs could succeed without poker machines. This commitment has long been abandoned.

The Rabbitohs have no poker machine venues. There was a leagues club, Souths on Chalmers, which was associated with the club while remaining a separate entity; this club has since closed down due to multi-million dollar debts.

The Rabbitohs do have an association with Souths Juniors Leagues Club, which operates a large number of poker machines.

South Sydney have a sponsorship deal with online betting company Luxbet. They also have a major sponsorship deal with Crown Casino… not surprising, given it is owned by one of their co-owners.

Sydney

revised 13/10/2015:

Sydney has one poker machine venue: the Eastern Suburbs Leagues Club.

The Roosters do, however, have a sponsorship deal with the Easts Group in general, which includes not only the Eastern Suburbs Leagues Club but also Berkeley Sports Club, Kingswood Sports Club, Waverley Bowling Club and Woy Woy Leagues Club.

Sydney has no discernible association with any online sports betting companies or casinos. They do have partnership arrangements with poker machine manufacturers Ainsworth, Konami, IGT and ShuffleMaster.

Wests Tigers

revised 13/10/2015:

The Tigers are the result of a merger between Western Suburbs and Balmain Tigers. As such, each association has a 50% interest in the team.

The Tigers have six poker machine venues: Wests Ashfield Leagues Club, Wests Campbelltown Leagues Club, Wests Sports Croydon Bowls Club, Tigers Five Dock, Tigers Sydney Markets, and Rydes-Eastwood Leagues Club. They also have a sponsorship arrangement with St Johns Park Bowling Club.

Wests Tigers have a sponsorship deal with online betting company Bet365.

A-League

The A-League is run by Football Federation Australia. The FFA has a corporate partnership with TAB as the A-League’s official betting agency.

There are ten teams competing the in A-League in the 2015/16 season. All A-League teams are privately owned.

Adelaide

revised 13/10/2015:

Adelaide United has one poker machine venue: the Castle Tavern. They also have two other poker machine venues as player sponsors: the Arkaba Hotel and the Hotel Royal.

Adelaide has no discernible association with any online sports betting companies or casinos.

Brisbane

revised 13/10/2015:

Brisbane Roar has no poker machine venues or casino partnerships.

They do have a sponsorship arrangement with online sports betting company Ladbrokes.

Central Coast

revised 13/10/2015:

Central Coast Mariners have an official sponsorship deal with Central Coast Leagues Club, who derive considerable revenue from poker machines.

They also have two other poker machine venues as player sponsors: Ettalong Diggers and Gosford RSL.

Central Coast Mariners have no discernible association with any online sports betting companies or casinos.

Melbourne City

revised 13/10/2015:

Melbourne City (formerly Melbourne Heart) has no poker machine venues or casino partnerships.

They do have a sponsorship arrangement with online sports betting company UBet.

Melbourne City are majority-owned by EPL club Manchester City, and minority-owned by the private consortium that owns NRL club Melbourne Storm. One of the consortium co-owners is Matt Tripp, who is the CEO of online sports betting company Crownbet.

Melbourne Victory

revised 13/10/2015:

Melbourne Victory has no discernible gambling related sponsorships or associations of any kind.

Victory is the only A-League club to sign the VRGF Responsible Gambling Charter. In doing so, they agree not to undertake deals or partnerships with sports betting companies. However, the charter does not preclude them from owning/operating poker machines.

Newcastle

revised 13/10/2015:

Newcastle Jets have no discernible gambling related sponsorships or associations of any kind.

Perth

revised 13/10/2015:

Perth Glory has no involvement in poker machine venues or online sports betting companies.

They do have a sponsorship arrangement with Crown Perth (Burswood Casino).

Sydney

revised 13/10/2015:

Sydney FC has no discernible gambling related sponsorships or associations of any kind.

Wellington

revised 13/10/2015:

Wellington Phoenix has no discernible gambling related sponsorships or associations of any kind.

Western Sydney

revised 13/10/2015:

Western Sydney have partnerships with three poker machine venues: Albion Hotel, Blacktown Workers Club and Club Marconi.

The Wanderers have no discernible association with any online sports betting companies or casinos.

SuperRugby

Australia’s premier domestic rugby union competition is not really domestic at all. The SuperRugby league is comprised of fifteen teams; five each from Australia, New Zealand and South Africa.

Unlike the NRL and A-League, which each include a single team from New Zealand, SuperRugby is a truly international league. Accordingly, this list will only look at the gambling links for the five Australian teams.

SuperRugby does not have an official betting partner; they have instead entered into agreements with 24 separate betting agencies.

In the past three years, the majority of Australian SuperRugby clubs have moved away from gambling partnerships.

ACT Brumbies

revised 13/10/2015:

The Brumbies have a sponsorship deal with the ACT TAB. They also have a partnership with the Viking Group, which runs four clubs in the ACT (Erindale, Chisholm, Town Centre and Lanyon). All four clubs are poker machine venues.

Western Force

revised 13/10/2015:

The Force have no discernible gambling related sponsorships or associations of any kind.

Melbourne Rebels

revised 13/10/2015:

The Rebels have no discernible gambling related sponsorships or associations of any kind.

Queensland Reds

revised 13/10/2015:

The Reds have no discernible gambling related sponsorships or associations of any kind.

NSW Waratahs

revised 13/10/2015:

The Waratahs have no discernible gambling related sponsorships or associations of any kind.

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