Posted by: breathliftlive | 07/05/2011

Response from David Gallop – NRL Chief Executive

After reading an article in a Brisbane newspaper a couple of months ago in which NRL Chief Executive David Gallop commented on his concern regarding the increase in gambling promotion I decided to email him. I explained my story and that from a spectators point of view, the dramatic increase in gambling promotions throughout every single game was of great concern. There’s promotional material on the ground, now sporting bet companies have there own ‘commercial’ type sections throughout each game and the commentators even discuss it.

I wasn’t suggesting to Mr Gallop that they remove it, not at all. I just wanted him to be aware of the harm it can cause and that they are in a position to show some level of responsibility. Here is his response:

Dear Kate,

Thanks for your email.

I don’t pretend to fully understand the many issues you will have had to deal with but rest assured there is no question in my mind as to the destructive nature of problem gambling.

We live in a world where the opportunities to gamble are expanding with each day and where bookmakers and other betting agencies have been able to use sports to drive new revenue streams, often with little return to the sports involved and little transparency on the part of the sports over the betting activities.

The integrity agreements we have signed with betting operators in recent years have addressed those issues to some extent and given Rugby League a greater ability to veto bet types and to properly examine irregularities should they occur.

There will always be some debate as to whether sports should have any involvement with betting but in truth betting has taken place around sports even before it was legalised through sports betting legislation. Sports did not seek to have gambling legalised, that was a decision of government.

For sports to ignore the fact it is taking place and to do so in a way that allows them no transparency over the betting is not a realistic way forward.

We do allow clubs to accept sponsorship from betting agencies as indeed does the NRL but these are governed by a number of guidelines that prohibit the involvement of individual players and enforce the need for responsible gambling promotion.

The NRL has strict guidelines relating to staff, officials and players betting on the game – they are not allowed to be involved, directly or indirectly, in any way with gambling in relation to the NRL competition.

The game also provides all players, game officials and staff, as well as their partners and immediate family, access to a 24-hour confidential counselling service, Davidson Trahaire Corpsych which includes specific support programs for players with gambling issues of any kind.

The NRL is continually working with other sports to develop best practice approaches to gambling and integrity issues in areas such as education and training, codes of conduct and integrity management.

It is fair to say that the majority of advertising around sports betting takes place outside of the sports and much of the television commentary you complain of would fall into that category.

Broadcasters control their own advertising and the messages promoted by their commentators.

There is a community acceptance that most people are able to gamble responsibly and are entitled to do so. Unfortunately, as you so clearly point out, there are those for whom gambling has devastating consequences.

Sadly the opportunities for problem gamblers will be there regardless of the NRL and they have been there both legally and illegally for some time. The evolution of internet gaming in particular presents a seemingly uncontrollable set of options in this regard. In short the problems associated with problem gambling extend far beyond a sport such as Rugby League.

We believe that an open and transparent approach which promotes the importance of responsible gambling and which recognises that sports are entitled to some return for the profits people make off their endeavours is a responsible way forward.

Again I respect and understand the strong feelings you have on this subject and will bear in mind your views going forward.

Kind regards
David Gallop
Chief Executive Officer

Now, whilst the players and my family weren’t the direct purpose of my email I do appreciate the fact he took the time to respond. I emailed Mr Gallop back to thank him. I also advised that after looking at the NRL website there’s a lot of mention of footy tipping, betting and the like and I suggested that they add a section to the website regarding responsible gambling and links and contacts for those who would like help. No, it’s not a fix but it’s a start. I received the following response:

Dear Kate,

Thanks again for writing in. We have noted your views and value your feedback.

It’s worth noting that people confuse a lot of the promotion happening through broadcasters and around sport as being from the sport when it isn’t.

We certainly accept there is an issue around problem gambling but we also accept that there are thousands who enjoy betting and are able to do so responsibly.

We take your views seriously and it is an area that we continue to keep a close eye on. We are also in the process of making changes to our website that will include those messages and we thank you for your feedback on that.

In relation to your request, we don’t mind if you post David’s email on your blog.

Thanks again.

So, on the positive side they are looking at having a responsible gambling section of their site. I’ll keep an eye out. My point was not to blame anyone or demand they remove gambling and betting. My point is that NRL is a popular sport followed by thousands. Out of those thousands I suspect there are many people in trouble and I feel the NRL should show some responsibility to its followers by supporting the issue. The more we can get this into the public spotlight the better.

You would have seen all the news about the gambling reforms lately. I’m in a unique position whereby we (my family)  live with the issue of problem gambling each and every day and also my mother works for an RSL. My mum has been the most amazing support to Tim and I over the years with Tim’s problem. She has never been negative, always postive, loving and supportive and we appreciate it more than she knows. Her concern, understandibly so and like many others in the industry, is that the reforms could damage clubs and therefore, their jobs. It’s a fine line where these reforms are concerned. How do you find a solution to a problem that affects some, not all? How do we help those in need without affecting those who are ok?

Again, I let my fingers do the talking yesterday and sent an email to many in government regarding the reforms. I offered some suggestions on the reforms and pleaded with them to not create a ‘bandaid fix’. The massive amount of money reportedly being spent on the reforms could be better spent on long term programs and assistance for those in need. They really need to talk to those who are affected by this problem, not just read about it or carry out massive changes without the full story. I am, however, pleased that finally, something is being done. Even the fact the it’s being talked about is a good thing.

Anyway, I’d love to hear your thoughts on the topic or if you’d like to share your story or ask a question please email me – breathliftlive@hotmail.com

Kate x

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Responses

  1. It is good that he took the time (or his PA did) to respond but it doesn’t change the fact that the NRL clubs are reliant upon problem gamblers to fund their sport and that is simply not a business model that is sustainable.

    • Hi Peter,

      Thank you for taking the time to respond. I agree, any business that is reliant on the money of problem gamblers needs to take a look at their business and how it’s run. If they can’t function without families having to suffer then there certainly is a major problem.

      Kate


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