You bet ya!

Remember when you played footy in the backyard as a kid and you had a bet with your mate that you could beat him?

“I’ll bet ya five, no, how about ten bucks? I’ll give you a two try head start. Lets go.”

It was also a bet to win.

Match fixing is a sad reality facing the NRL as the New South Wales police this week created strike force ‘Nuralda’ in an effort to get to the bottom of recent allegations that’s rocked the game.

“There must be a zero tolerance to people who attempt to corrupt the integrity of our sport through match fixing,” the state’s Minister for Sport said.

The question is, have we created all this ourselves?

The fact that you can’t watch a game of rugby league in Australia without a betting company throwing the odds of all games in your face before kickoff is disappointing.

Talking about odds, starts and margins has become embedded in the minds of the sporting public. Even presenters and commentators remind us of the markets even if we haven’t already got the jist.

Watching sport on TV shouldn’t be like walking into a casino.

The connection between sport and sports betting has grown at an accelerating rate with figures showing that in the first two months of this year, the gambling industry spent $23.7 million on advertising.

I’ve nothing against those wishing to bet. Go your hardest. But if you want to do it, you should be able to source it yourself.

The NRL could do itself a favour by taking a look at how to moderate betting sponsorship around its game more strictly. 

In May this year the North America’s National Basketball Association (NBA) said that gambling firms will not be able to advertise through the league’s new jersey sponsorship scheme.

Pouring sponsorship money into the game is important…but at what cost? Temptation! That’s the cost.

There are other sports that have taken measures to a least try and stop that temptation to throw or contrive a contest.

In January Victoria’s gambling regulator banned Tabcorp from taking bets on a UFC cage fighting event in Melbourne, amid warnings by law enforcement agencies that the sport was vulnerable to corruption and money laundering by organised criminals.

As I’m writing this I read that a teenager rugby league player from Wollongong, south of Sydney, was allegedly offered $500 to feign injury and withdraw from his team’s final.

Wow. Just wow. Can you believe it?

Can we go back to resembling those days in the backyard please?

Because sadly its all becoming a sure bet now.

Michael Cain is a senior rugby league journalist for TEN Eyewitness news in Sydney.

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