gambling and your team

NOTE: This list has been substantially revised and re-published, as of October 2015. You can find it here: Gambling and your team – revised.

updated 15/04/2013

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?

I had a fair idea… but I wanted to be sure. So I’ve spent some time trawling through all of the publicly available information (and some not so public) and I’ve compiled a breakdown of every AFL, NRL, A-League and Rugby Union club in Australia, and their gambling connections.

This is not intended to be a judgemental exercise; I have my opinions as to what place gambling has in sport, but I’ll save those for another day.

And of course, it’s worth remembering that this is sport I’m talking about. Sponsorship deals are created and broken every year, and the landscape continually changes. So bear in mind that this information will change over time.

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 doesn’t stop them from having a corporate partnership with TAB Sportsbet as the league’s official betting agency; however, there is no mention of betting on the AFL website and odds are NOT displayed anywhere.

The AFL has expressed their reservations about poker machine reform, although they fell short of openly opposing any change.

There are no privately owned AFL teams.

Adelaide

updated 29/03/2013:

The Crows currently have no poker machines. They did have an association with a gaming venue at AAMI stadium which was called Crow’s Tavern; however, this association ended after Port Adelaide joined the AFL. Both South Australian clubs participate in the AFL through a licensing agreement with the SANFL and AAMI Stadium, and as both clubs were co-tenants of the stadium, the SANFL took the venue back from Adelaide and renamed it Checkside.

Adelaide lists TattsBet as a corporate partner on their website, and has done so since March 2012 (maybe earlier). However, Adelaide told me on 19 Feb this year that they do NOT have a partnership with Tattsbet, and haven’t had for more than a year. They also said they do NOT have an official betting partner. If the inclusion of TattsBet on their website is a mistake, hopefully that will be rectified soon.



Adelaide FC and TattsBet – partners or not?

Adelaide has sponsorship deals with SA Lotteries and Adelaide Casino. It formerly had a sponsorship deal with the Avoca Hotel which has 33 poker machines.

Brisbane

revised 29/03/2013:

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 a sponsorship deal with online betting company TattsBet.

Brisbane also has a sponsorship deal with the Treasury Casino.

Carlton

updated 29/03/2013:

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 CEO Greg Swann and 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.

Carlton has a sponsorship deal with online betting company SportingBet.

Collingwood

updated 29/03/2013:

The Magpies have four poker machine venues: the Diamond Creek Tavern, The Club, The Coach & Horses and The International. In 2012 the VCGLR approved an application from Collingwood to move The International’s poker machines to a new venue (the East Ridge Club) just down the road; this has not happened yet.

Collingwood has a sponsorship deal with online betting company Sportbet, replacing their deal with TAB Sportsbet. They formerly had a branded betting website, magpiesbet, operated by BetEzy; this has recently been closed down.

Essendon

updated 29/03/2013:

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

Essendon has a “digital support partnership” deal with online betting company Centrebet, although there is no mention of Centrebet in their list of commercial partners. They formerly had a deal with BetEzy and a branded betting website, bombersbet; this has now been closed down.

Fremantle

revised 29/03/2013:

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

Fremantle has a sponsorship deal with online betting company TAB Ozbet. The club also has a sponsorship deal with Burswood Casino.

Geelong

updated 29/03/2013:

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 betting companies. They do have a partnership with Gambler’s Help which was recently extended.

Gold Coast

revised 29/03/2013:

The Suns have no poker machine venues. They also have no discernible association with any online betting companies.

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.

Greater Western Sydney

revised 29/03/2013:

The AFL’s newest team, the Giants have no poker machine venues. They do have a sponsorship deal with online betting company ACT TAB.

Greater Western Sydney also lists poker machine manufacturer Global Gaming Industries as a corporate partner.

Hawthorn

updated 29/03/2013:

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.

Hawthorn has no discernible association with any online betting companies. However, they have a formal association with VFL club Box Hill Hawks, who are sponsored by BetEzy.

Melbourne

updated 29/03/2013:

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

Melbourne has a sponsorship deal with online betting company BetEzy, although they do NOT mention this on their website.


Melbourne FC and BetEzy – partners or not?

They also had a branded betting website, deesbet, operated by BetEzy on their behalf; this has recently been closed down.

North Melbourne

revised 22/09/2012:

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. They formerly had a deal with BetEzy, who operated a branded betting website, roosbet, on their behalf. This has recently been shut down.

North Melbourne have signed a deal with World Vision, which precludes them from earning any future revenue from gambling for the duration of their association.

North Melbourne also has a sponsorship deal with the Spirit of Tasmania, which operates poker machines. It is unclear how this will impact on their partnership with World Vision.

Port Adelaide

updated 15/04/2013:

The Power are in a similar position to the Adelaide Crows, participating in the AFL through a licensing agreement with the SANFL. However, they were formed out of an existing SANFL club (Port Adelaide Magpies) and as such have retained control of one poker machine venue, The Port Club in Alberton.

Port Adelaide retain a close association with Port Adelaide Magpies; the Magpies have one poker machine venue, the Prince of Wales.

Port Adelaide has just formed a partnership with online betting company Bet365. As a result, they have ended their partnership with SA Lotteries.

Updated to add: on Sunday 14th April 2013, Port Adelaide announced a new premier partnership with Adelaide Casino.

Richmond

updated 29/03/2013:

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 no partnerships with online betting companies at all. They formerly had a sponsorship deal with Luxbet, but ended this at the conclusion of the 2012 season.

St Kilda

updated 29/03/2013:

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

St Kilda has a sponsorship deal with online betting company Centrebet. They are the Saint’s major sponsor, with jumper naming rights.

St Kilda has a formal association with VFL club Sandringham Zebras, who are sponsored by BetEzy. The Zebras also have a branded betting website, zebrabet, operated by BetEzy on their behalf. This site is still active.

Sydney

updated 29/03/2013:

The Swans have no poker machine venues. They reportedly had one club several years ago, but it closed down as it was unable to compete with other local NRL-affiliated venues.

Sydney signed a sponsorship deal (premium partnership) with online betting company Tom Waterhouse in 2012. This deal has now ended, and Sydney has no discernible association with Tom Waterhouse or any other sports betting agency.

West Coast

revised 29/03/2013:

The Eagles, being a West Australian club, have no poker machine venues. The do have a sponsorship deal with online betting company TAB Ozbet.

West Coast has a sponsorship deal with Burswood Casino.

Western Bulldogs

revised 29/03/2013:

The Bulldogs have two poker machine venues: Club Leeds and the Peninsula Club (formerly the Dromana/Red Hill RSL). They are building a third venue, Club Edgewater, which has experienced considerable opposition from local government.

The Western Bulldogs have no discernible association with any online betting companies. They formerly had a deal with BetEzy, who operated a branded betting website, doggiesbet, on their behalf. This has since been shut down.

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. However, the league (with Channel Nine) has just signed a deal with Tom Waterhouse as the league’s official betting agency. This deal is reported to be worth close to $50 million, and replaces the previous arrangement with TAB Sportsbet. The NRL also has a partnership deal with Keno.

Interestingly, although the NRL are officially affiliated with Waterhouse, their website sources its odds from rival company SportingBet. And yes, odds are displayed on the wesite for upcoming matches.

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

Brisbane

updated 29/03/2013:

The Broncos are the NRL’s only publicly listed club. The majority shareholder in the Broncos is News Limited, although there has been recent speculation that they may be looking to sell their 68% stake in the club.

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

Canberra

revised 29/03/2013:

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 Braddon 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, the Logan City Recreational & Sporting Club, and the Toowoomba Sports Club. Each of these also runs poker machines.

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

Canterbury-Bankstown

revised 29/03/2013:

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

Canterbury has a sponsorship deal with online betting company BetEzy. They also had a branded betting website, bulldogsbet, operated by BetEzy on their behalf; this has since been closed down.

The Bulldogs also have a sponsorship deal with hotel and gaming operator NLG, who run over thirty poker machine venues across NSW and Queensland.

Cronulla-Sutherland

revised 29/03/2013:

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

Cronulla has a sponsorship deal with online betting company LuxBet.com, replacing their previous deal with BetEzy. Their branded betting website, sharksbet, operated by BetEzy on their behalf, has also been closed down.

The Sharks have ended their sleeve sponsorship deal with online poker website PokerStars.net.

Gold Coast

revised 29/03/2013:

The Titans are a privately owned team. The majority owner is a consortium of businessmen overseen by founder Michael Searle.

The Titans do not have a poker machine venue, although discussions are currently taking place with regards to the establishment of a Titans Leagues club.

Gold Coast has a sponsorship deal with online betting company BetEzy. They also have a branded betting website, titansbet, operated by BetEzy on their behalf.

The Titans also have sponsorship deals with Nerang RSL and the Seagulls Club (poker machines), as well as Jupiters Casino.

Manly-Warringah

updated 29/03/2013:

The Sea-Eagles are a privately owned team. Majority ownership is split between Penn Sport and Delmege Construction.

The Sea-Eagles have one poker machine venue: the Manly Leagues Club. They also have a corporate partnership with Harbord Diggers, part of the Mounties group.

Manly has a sponsorship deal with online betting company Centrebet, which includes rear jersey naming rights.

Melbourne

updated 29/03/2013:

The Storm are a privately owned team. They are 100% owned by News Limited.

Melbourne do not have a poker machine venue, and they have no discernible association with any online betting agencies.

The Storm has a major sponsorship arrangement with Crown Casino. They also have a corporate partnership with poker machine manufacturer Konami.

Newcastle

revised 29/03/2013:

The Knights are a privately owned team. They were bought in 2011 by Nathan Tinkler, who also own A-League team the Newcastle Jets.

The Knights do not have direct control of a poker machine venue, although the possibility of establishing a Knights Leagues Club has been raised by Tinkler.

The Knights do, however, have a sponsorship deal with two clubs from the Panthers Group (Cardiff and Newcastle) which run poker machines. The Panthers Group is the entity behind the Penrith Panthers.

They also have a sponsorship deal with the Wests Group, which includes Western Suburbs Leagues Club, Wests Bowling Club, Wests Mayfield and Nelson Bay Diggers; and a separate sponsorship deal with Toronto Workers Club.

Newcastle has a sponsorship deal with online betting company Sportsbet. They formerly had a deal with BetEzy, who operated a branded betting website, knightsbet, on their behalf. This has since been shut down.

New Zealand

revised 29/03/2013:

The Warriors are a privately owned team. Majority ownership is held by businessmen Eric Watson and Mark Hutchin.

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

North Queensland

updated 29/03/2013:

The Cowboys were owned by News Limited until just a few years ago. They are no longer privately owned.

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

North Queensland had a major sponsorship deal with online betting company Bet365. This replaces their 2012 partnership with Centrebet.

The Cowboys also have a deal with Jupiters Casino (Townsville).

Parramatta

revised 29/03/2013:

The Eels have two poker machine venues: the Parramatta Leagues Club and the Viking Sports Club.

Parramatta has no discernible association with any online betting companies.

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

Penrith

updated 29/03/2013:

The Panthers are the gambling heavyweights of the NRL. They are run by the Panthers Group, who operate fourteen separate clubs under the Panthers banner:
* Penrith
* Newcastle
* Port Macquarie
* Cardiff
* Bathhurst
* Glenbrook
* Lavington
* Mekong (Cabramatta)
* Nepean Shores
* North Richmond
* Port Macquarie Sports
* Triglav (St Johns Park)
* Wallacia
* West Epping

All fourteen Panthers clubs (except Nepean Shores) operate poker machines. Panthers’ General Manager of Rugby League Phil Gould has been an outspoken critic of poker machine reform. Gould also regularly appears on a betting TV panel show hosted by Tom Waterhouse.

Penrith has a sponsorship deal with online betting company Centrebet, and Penrith Stadium has officially been renamed Centrebet Stadium.

The Panthers also have a gold sponsorship deal with poker machine manufacturer Konami.

St George Illawarra

updated 29/03/2013:

The Dragons have two poker machine venues: the St George Leagues Club in Beverley Park, and the Steelers Club in Wollongong.

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

The Dragons also list poker machine companies IGT, Ainsworth, and Shufflemaster in their Partner Directory.

South Sydney

revised 29/03/2013:

The Rabbitohs are a privately owned team. Majority ownership is held by businessman Peter Holmes a Court and actor Russell Crowe.

Holmes a Court and Crowe were determined to ensure that the Rabbitohs could succeed without poker machines. However, the recently-completed Leagues club (Souths on Chalmers) is a separate entity to the football team, and they have reintroduced poker machines against the owners’ wishes.

The Rabbitohs also have an association with Souths Juniors Leagues Club, who operate 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 The Star Casino.

Sydney

revised 29/03/2013:

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 a sponsorship deal with online betting company Sportsbet. They also have sponsorship deals with the Kings Cross TAB, as well as poker machine manufacturers Ainsworth, ShuffleMaster and Konami.

Wests Tigers

revised 29/03/2013:

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 five poker machine venues: Wests Ashfield Leagues Club, Wests Leagues Club at Leumeah, Tigers Balmain, Tigers Five Dock and Tigers Sydney Markets. They also have a sponsorship deal with Ingleburn RSL.

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

A-League

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

There are ten teams competing the in A-League in the 2012/13 season. All A-League teams are privately owned, and typically have minimal involvement in gambling sponsorship and revenue.

As far as I can determine, no A-League clubs currently run poker machine venues.

Adelaide

revised 29/03/2013:

Adelaide United has a sponsorship deal with SA Lotteries.

Brisbane

revised 29/03/2013:

Brisbane Roar has no discernible gambling related sponsorships or associations of any kind.

Central Coast

revised 29/03/2013:

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

Melbourne Heart

revised 29/03/2013:

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

Melbourne Victory

revised 29/03/2013:

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

Additionally, Victory have a sponsorship deal with problem gambling support service Gambler’s Help.

Newcastle

revised 29/03/2013:

Newcastle Jets have no sponsorship arrangements with any online betting companies. They had a sponsorship deal with online betting company Sportsbet, but this appears to have been terminated.

The Jets do have a partnership with Newcastle Panthers Club and Cardiff Panthers Club, members of the Panthers group that runs NRL club Penrith Panthers. Both of these clubs derive considerable revenue from poker machines. They also have a separate sponsorship arrangement with Toronto Diggers.

Perth

revised 29/03/2013:

Perth Glory has no discernible gambling related sponsorships or associations of any kind.

Sydney

revised 29/03/2013:

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

Wellington

revised 29/03/2013:

Wellington Phoenix has a sponsorship deal with online betting company TAB Sport.

Western Sydney

revised 29/03/2013:

Newcomers Western Sydney have no discernible gambling related sponsorships or associations of any kind.

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 has a corporate partnership with Betfair as the league’s official betting agency.

As far as I can determine, no SuperRugby clubs currently run poker machine venues.

ACT Brumbies

revised 29/03/2013:

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 29/03/2013:

The Force have no discernible association with any online betting companies. They do have a sponsorship deal with Burswood Casino.

Melbourne Rebels

revised 29/03/2013:

The Rebels have no discernible association with any online betting companies. They do have a sponsorship deal with Crown Casino.

Queensland Reds

revised 29/03/2013:

The Reds have a sponsorship deal with online betting company Betfair. They do not appear to have any other gambling/betting sponsorships or associations.

NSW Waratahs

revised 29/03/2013:

The Waratahs have a sponsorship deal with online betting company Betfair. They also have a sponsorship deal with The Rugby Club, which operates poker machines, and a sponsorship deal with hotel and gaming operator NLG, who run over thirty poker machine venues across NSW and Queensland.

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8 Responses

  1. Susan says:

    Interesting that Panthers have so many venues. I don’t follow NRL but I don’t think the club is seting the comp alight. Where does all that money go? Also interesting that Eddie Everywhere and Phil Gould were the most outspoken against poker machine reform. I also note that Sydney Swans manage to be competitive without any poker machine or other gambling revenue and are very active in the community promoting junior sport. clearly, poker machine /gambling revenue is not reqired for a successful sporting club.

  2. cyenne says:

    Susan, the Panthers Group makes in excess of $90 million every year from poker machines, and they’re running at a multi-million dollar loss. Sheer financial incompetence, and the main reason they came out so hard against poker machine reform. Forget the rights of their members, they’re so close to bankruptcy that the littlest thing could send them over the edge.

  3. sally says:

    Hi,

    St George Illawarra also associated a licensed premises in Wollongong. The NRL team St George Illawarra is a Pty Ltd company owned by the St George and Illawarra FCs. The St George FC has the same Board as the Leagues Club.

  4. cyenne says:

    Thanks Sally, that would be the Steelers Club? Updated accordingly. 🙂

  5. PeteD says:

    Does Parramatta Leagues Club also own the Parramatta Two Blues Rugby Club?

    I also think Tigers Balmain hasn’t been operating as such for a few years.

    Would also be interesting to see the scale of involvement of the clubs, not just the qualitative lists.

  6. cyenne says:

    Cheers Pete. Not sure about Two Blues, will look further.
    Tigers Balmain has closed down temporarily, according to the club. They’re planning on re-opening in a new venue.
    Agree with you about the scale; unfortunately, NRL clubs and NSW registered clubs are not exactly forthcoming about that information! I made the decision to go with venue listings rather than the number of machines, the amount of revenue, percentage ownership etc as I simply couldn’t get hold of consistent data for all clubs.

  7. cyenne says:

    Pete,
    The Eels did have a partnership with the Two Blues, but ended it at the end of the 2008 season for financial reasons.

  8. RET says:

    Pulling all that together can’t have been a five minute job. Well done Tom.

    As a previous commenter noted, “follow the money”. It shouldn’t surprise anyone that the most vocal opponents (Gould and McGuire) had such a stake in the outcome.

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