Has rugby league’s relationship with gambling begun to go too far?

IF you are an NRL player found to have made a bet on a rugby league game, you are a dope.

But what do we call the suits in charge who have encouraged this mad fixation on betting that now brings millions of dollars into the sport every year?




Hold that thought.

As we’ve all heard by now, young Wests Tigers centre Tim Simona was stood down amid the latest NRL betting investigation.

The claims are that 25-year-old allegedly made a string of small bets on several games over a series of months.

What exactly the bets relate to remains a mystery, but there is some talk they related to Simona allegedly betting on himself to be first try scorer.

Simona will now be prohibited from training, or playing, until the investigation is complete.

If he is found guilty, Simona’s career will be effectively over.

I have no problem with that.

There is no question all NRL players, and staff, are educated with respect to their responsibilities on betting.

TROUBLE: Simona’s career in jeopardy

HISTORY: Sports stars who gambled and lost

Even if they aren’t betting against their own team, they are simply not allowed to bet on the sport.

But is there also a responsibility for the people in charge to put some limits on this growing phenomenon of exotic betting options that appear to be the most easy to manipulate?

I was talking to racing’s former chief cop Ray Murrihy about it last year, at about the time there was a push to get Murrihy involved in the NRL’s integrity unit.

Murrihy had no doubt rugby league, and all sport for that matter, were heading for some serious issues.

“I mean, I was driving the other night and I heard them say that you can bet for the State of Origin on the highest number of offloads and things like that,” Murrihy said.

How do you police that?

In racing they regulate well in advance of a meeting who is riding, what weight the horse has, its form is exposed and there is a whole range of veterinary and checks.

But in rugby league coaches get to play ducks and drakes all week with their teams in relation to injuries and possible late changes.

Right up until an hour before kick off.

Then when the players run out, all these other exotic options are exposed.

Then through advertising, pregame and at halftime, they are jammed down our throats.

Most offloads, first try scorer, most tackles, who leads at halftime and fulltime, you name it.

“And don’t forget, gamble responsibly,” they constantly tell us with a smile.

As Murrihy said: “It is difficult for the sports to get across all those areas that inside information can be so vital.”

“For sports it will be a challenge, there is absolutely no doubt about it.

“And there is always going to be someone look to take an advantage of some inside information or manipulation.”

Whether it be a player, a friend, an official, a fan.

We all have a problem, and it is growing.

Rubbing out one player is not going to fix it.