Sponsorships are a big deal in the live and online betting industry. Getting your logo on the jerseys of popular athletic teams and highlighted during sports broadcasts can be the difference between a struggling business and a monumentally successful operation. Australia’s CrownBet and Ireland’s Paddy Power have both achieved the latter status, but they’ll do just about anything to extend their presence by landing a partnership deal with the National Rugby League (NRL).
James Packer, owner of CrownBet and Australia’s wealthiest man alive, is locked in an exorbitant bidding war with Paddy Power, one of the world’s most successful bookmakers. There’s already $50 million on the line, and neither company appears ready to back down to the other’s affluency.
Paddy Power, which – aside from its flagship brand – owns and operates a throng of other live and online betting companies across Europe, including Betfair and Sportsbet, has the upper hand at the moment. The company submitted the latest $50 million bid, and is less than 48 hours away from locking in the win.
Packer’s CrownBet has submitted an equally expensive $50 million bid, and according to sources inside the group, could be prepared to deliver a higher offer if necessary.
“We’ll give the NRL more money than any other bookie can,” asserted CrownBet CEO Matt Tripp.
CrownBet is already the official sponsor of the Australian Football League (AFL), giving them exclusive digital rights to broadcast live matches alongside online betting services on their website, crownbet.com.au.
Both gambling giants have access to more than enough resources to win the bid for an NRL partnership, but Paddy Power has another ace up its sleeve. The Irish wagering giant touts ownership of Sportsbet, which is already the current sponsor of the NRL.
NRL Says Money Isn’t Everything
While transitioning to a new official wagering partner may be more lucrative for the NRL in the short term, a smooth experience for live and online betting customers is paramount. Logically, such a goal is best achieved by sticking with the current partner and maintaining status quo. Then again, avoiding any negative attention in the media, as was experienced in a former deal with loud-mouthed Tom Waterhouse, is also a high priority.
A spokesman for the NRL confirmed that it’s not all about money, and that the contract will go to whoever they view as the best overall candidate, not just the highest bidder.
“We want to ensure that any partnership includes a commitment to responsible gambling programs and appropriate wagering promotions,” the spokesman said. “If we get those assurances in place, we have an opportunity to generate significant funds for the game.”
According to Tripp, his company fits that bill and would make the best possible choice for a live and online betting partner.
“We agree it’s not just about the dollars,” said CrownBet’s CEO. “We think we can ensure the NRL is best served through responsible gambling.
“We are supporters of the code through our Melbourne Storm and South Sydney affiliations and would like to think we’d make good partners given our track record in the wagering sector,” he continued. “We’re also the last of the Australian online wagering operators, and given that, we’d best serve and support an Australian community based code.”
Both firms are prepared to pay the NRL $50 million over the next 5 years ($10 per year) to seal the deal. The eventual winner will receive exclusive advertising rights with the NRL’s official networks, which include Channel Nine, FoxSports and their corresponding radio networks.
No matter who wins the bid, it will be a win-win situation for the National Rugby League and all of its clubs.