Critics of the landmark deal that renamed Penrite’s rugby league ground in western Sydney after its bookmaker sponsors were slammed as Centre bet hit back.
The new $1.5 million five year sponsorship deal agreed between Centrebet and the Penrith Panthers that saw the renaming of their sports stadium as the Centrebet Stadium Penrith, had anti-gambling campaigners up in arms when it was formerly announced. Senator Nick Xenophon, a high profile political anti-gambling campaigner openly criticized the NRL (National Rugby League) for their part in allowing the name change to go ahead. That criticism was swiftly followed by a scathing retort by Centrebet, whose spokesman Neil Evans likened the anti-gambling brigade to a cracked record.
He suggested they survey the people going to the ground to watch the matches along with the people at the local shopping mall, working on building sites and drinking in the local pubs to find out what real people really think about it. He went on to say of his own attitude that “reality is reality” while “business is business” and he congratulated both Penrite City Council and the board of the Panthers for their strong-minded stance. There are a lot of clubs who could only dream of earning a ground deal over five years that was worth the kind of money this deal was worth. There are also all the spin-off benefits that will help the community that should also be taken into consideration in the form of jobs and the boost to local businesses.
Federal Sports Minister, Mark Arbib, is currently working alongside representatives of the seven main sporting codes in Australia on the eradication if match-fixing within sport. He said the stadium deal between the two sides was not viewed as a concern. Arbib said that the sponsorship deals involving sporting codes and sports stadiums is purely a matter for owners of the individual stadiums and organizations. He said that the government has been advised by the NRL that this particular sponsorship agreement meets all of its own sponsorship and gambling guidelines.
Centrebet has sponsorship deals with another four NRL clubs. The NRL requires all betting agencies that have an association with the sport to have signed binding integrity agreements. The club’s CEO, Michael Leary described the deal as a boon for Penrith. Since it first began working with the Panthers in 2010, Centrebet has been a very responsible and highly regarded corporate partner. Due next month is a working party report that has been commissioned by the Coalition of Major Professional Sports.