NEWS Betting adds more entertainment to rugby league’: Inside V’landys’ Vegas plan

Kimlo

Kimlo

International Captain
Senior Staff
Apr 26, 2008
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Andrew Webster
May 2, 2023
Source: SMH

In the great game of rugby league, it’s hard to separate fact from fiction and the NRL’s wild proposal to start the 2024 season with a double-header in Las Vegas has been no different. The Herald’s Chief Sports Writer Andrew Webster pinned down ARL Commission chairman Peter V’landys and asked some hard questions.

Let’s cut to the chase: what’s the actual benefit for rugby league in holding matches in Las Vegas?
I’ve been speaking to someone in New York who is an Australian who loves rugby league and has been a reasonable success in investment there. He says that they’re looking for wagering content outside the time zones. Rugby league is the perfect one for that. What hit me with our overseas broadcast is that we don’t promote it. We get money for it, but we can get a lot more for it. There are two strands in my eyes we can get extra revenue from: the broadcast subscription but, if we can put that with a wagering operator, you can get two times the revenue. If you’re betting on the product, you’ll subscribe to the broadcast.

Do you honestly think Americans are going to start betting on something they know nothing about?
Absolutely. A lot of people bet on exotics. The biggest sports bet in Australia isn’t NRL and AFL it’s …
American basketball. That’s widely known. But that’s the NBA, Peter. It’s a global sport.
That’s why this has to be a long-term plan. You see, this can be a massive event in Vegas. Someone told me the other day this has the potential to take over from G’day USA as the No.1 event in America each year to promote Australia.
You’re aware there’s a massive event in Las Vegas two weeks earlier?
That’s why the timing is good because there’s a lull in Vegas after the Super Bowl. That gives us some negotiating power, too. If you don’t speculate you don’t accumulate. We spend hundreds of thousands of dollars a year launching our season. If we do this right, it won’t cost us anything. You’ll get so much money from sponsors. I’m optimistic, but I think we’ll get 5000 Australians [travelling] there. That makes it very attractive to an airline, for accommodation. There’s a lot of Australians in America. When we first looked at it last year someone over there said it would be a waste of money to do it in LA because LA is such a happening place. That’s why we had to find an alternate. Vegas is the one place where you can promote the game; let’s make it a double-header, let’s get a UFC event, let’s get a world title fight, let’s get a show. This isn’t about rugby league but Australia.
A highly placed NRL official said to me last week you’re not looking at Allegiant Stadium, the home of the Raiders, but the 25,000-seat Sam Boyd Stadium.
We’re looking at all options.

Say it is Allegiant, which has a capacity of 65,000. If 5000 people fly in from Australia, another 5000 come for the Tszyu fight, add a few ex-pats … A quarter-full stadium would be a disaster.
You’re right, I can’t argue on that, but one thing I’ve learned in my business career is that any good idea is only as good as the way it’s implemented. If we get 30,000, I’d be happy. We have to make the game bigger. America’s the next big market for us.

What about shoring up this market?
We need the revenue to put back into pathways. That’s why I am doing all this. The Dolphins have reversed the momentum the AFL had in Queensland. We need to keep growing. If you stand still, you’ll go backwards.

You talk about pathways. I’ve been told the cost of taking two teams to Las Vegas could cost as little as $5 million to upwards of $15 million. Aren’t there other areas of the game, namely the bush, where that money would be better spent?
We’re going to put money into the bush anyway. But this is an investment for the bush. I don’t think it will cost us anything to be honest with you.


ARL Commission chairman Peter V’landys.

ARL Commission chairman Peter V’landys.Credit:Rhett Wyman
Bush footy doesn’t have time for the rivers of gold from US wagering. Clubs are dying now.
We don’t run country rugby league.
But you fund it. And it’s the lifeblood of the game.
What the NRL has done is create a body called Participation Australia. It’s going to have strategies in growing participation and the country is the main we’ll look at. I’d like Brad Fittler and Billy Slater on this board. We’ve set aside many millions of dollars to invest in this.

I’m already told the clubs and players want some of that $200 million of wagering revenue you spruiked to News Corp on Sunday. Correct?
Anything we do goes back to the clubs, players, and participation. Let’s say our revenue is $100. The clubs get $21, the players get $41, and participation gets $40. The rest is left for us to buy assets.
That’s $102.
[Laughs] I’ve never been a good accountant. Look, there’s a cake and we split up the cake.

Rugby league is not racing. It shouldn’t be a product that generates wagering turnover, should it?
Rugby league is a tribal entertainment product. What wagering does is add a little bit more entertainment onto the already fantastic product. I’m in a tipping contest at work, so I watch every game. If I have a bet on a first try-scorer, it gives you a little more enjoyment.
[Laughs] I’m familiar with how tipping and betting works. But not everyone is OK with gambling. You’re tying the game’s future to gambling and that is wrong.
I don’t agree. It’s one part of a massive revenue base … although we’ve taken $15 million a year out of wagering to $50 million a year.
What about lowering the product fees the NRL charges bookmakers in Australia so they can pass on better odds to the punter?
You could only have got that from a wagering operator.
No, it comes from punters who want a decent price.
It won’t make a difference whatsoever. Maybe if it was just head-to-head.

That’s a start!
But that’s not what the punters bet on.
How can the average rugby league fan afford to fly to the US, get accommodation, buy tickets to the games, a world title fight, a Hugh Jackman show and then all the other delights of Las Vegas?
They can. This will be the ultimate bucket-list thing for mates.
Doesn’t Andrew Abdo have more important issues to put his time and energy into – like this ridiculous transfer system that nobody ever gets around to fixing?
Andrew’s time has been totally focussed on the collective bargaining agreement. While we’re in the weeds with the CBA, what revenue opportunities have we let go? The big issues have been resolved, except the transfer windows. But we’ve put something to the RLPA. In good faith, they said they’d come back to us.

What’s the next step in the process of this happening?
Abdo will join me in two weeks, and we’ll head to Vegas and talk to all these different people and analyse the situation.
Two wolves running around in the desert together, in Las Vegas, looking for TV deals and wagering operators …
I’d prefer Dean Martin and Frank Sinatra.
Is this thing really happening or is it just another proposal?
I’ll be able to tell you one way or the other after all the meetings. I’m confident, but every piece of Lego must join up. I’m not doing it to fail. The next two weeks will be telling.

Then you’ll be ready to let the dogs out?
I’m not worried about player behaviour. This isn’t a trip away – they’re going over there to play. But we’ll have them booked onto a flight the very next morning!
 
Kimlo

Kimlo

International Captain
Senior Staff
Apr 26, 2008
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Rugby league is not racing. It shouldn’t be a product that generates wagering turnover, should it?
Rugby league is a tribal entertainment product. What wagering does is add a little bit more entertainment onto the already fantastic product. I’m in a tipping contest at work, so I watch every game. If I have a bet on a first try-scorer, it gives you a little more enjoyment.

That's commitment from the chairman.
 
BooKhaki

BooKhaki

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Sep 16, 2020
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Hate him all you like, but he is spot on. Betting 100% increases enjoyment in games, especially games you aren't a supporter of either side.
 
Alec

Alec

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Mar 4, 2008
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He's sleazy but they did hire him to try to grow the game, they probably had stuff like this is mind already due to his background.
 
BooKhaki

BooKhaki

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Sep 16, 2020
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It also ruins many relationships and lives.
So does alcohol. So do many things. It's not the NRL's responsibility to make you not gamble your entire pay. That's what the government is trying to do with all the new responsible gambling requirements on betting companies.
 
Fozz

Fozz

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Mar 4, 2008
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Hate him all you like, but he is spot on. Betting 100% increases enjoyment in games, especially games you aren't a supporter of either side.

If you're a gambling addict, sure. Plenty of people don't need that crutch to watch the game.

Vlandys is turning into a knock off Biff Tannen
 
BooKhaki

BooKhaki

NRL Player
Sep 16, 2020
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If you're a gambling addict, sure. Plenty of people don't need that crutch to watch the game.

Vlandys is turning into a knock off Biff Tannen
If I enjoy a beer while watching the game, am I also an alcoholic?

People don't need gambling, people don't need alcohol, people don't need the NRL at all. We aren't talking about "needs"
 
Nashy

Nashy

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Mar 5, 2008
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If I enjoy a beer while watching the game, am I also an alcoholic?

People don't need gambling, people don't need alcohol, people don't need the NRL at all. We aren't talking about "needs"

How many alcohol ads do the alcoholics need to sit through with a live sitting of sports now days though? None? Nearly none?

Compare that to the gambling addicts who have to listen to something about gambling nearly every second breath.
 
Renegade

Renegade

State of Origin Captain
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Mar 14, 2008
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Betting adds more entertainment until you lose and then you're annoyed that some dickhead dropped the ball/missed a tackle that cost you your multi.
 
BooKhaki

BooKhaki

NRL Player
Sep 16, 2020
2,691
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How many alcohol ads do the alcoholics need to sit through with a live sitting of sports now days though? None? Nearly none?

Compare that to the gambling addicts who have to listen to something about gambling nearly every second breath.
Do the NRL control what ads Fox and 9 play? I have to sit through Katy Perry singing about uber eats or whatever food delivery company she is paid by, yet it hasn't made me order anything from them.
Betting adds more entertainment until you lose and then you're annoyed that some dickhead dropped the ball/missed a tackle that cost you your multi.
And if that person stupidly messages a player about it, there is a process where they can provide that information to the NRL who pass it onto betting agencies who then proceed to ban that person due to responsible gambling.
 

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