The NRL is looking to tap into the US betting market and is making plans to open the 2024 NRL season in Las Vegas. There seems to be no shortage of interest too, as three clubs, Melbourne, Manly, and South Sydney, have already confirmed they would be happy to kick off the next NRL season in Sin City. If all goes to plan, the opening game of next season should be played at Allegiant Stadium, the venue for NFL’s next season Super Bowl LVIII.
ARL Commission chairman Peter V’Landys will travel to the USA next month to discuss whether the event could be organized and will be accompanied by NRL chief Andre Abdo. An outcome is expected in the coming weeks.
US Betting Operators Will Stream Footy Matches for a Fee
According to sources, the main reason why the NRL is targeting a Las Vegas season-opener is the rapidly expanding US sports betting market. In New York State, for instance, wagering operators reported a combined sports betting turnover of $16 billion last year.
And the NRL could play its part in increasing those turnover figures while making a profit itself. Sources told the Herald that the NRL would allow US bookmakers to stream live NRL content for a fee. That fee will likely be a percentage of a sportsbook’s revenue or turnover. Currently, the NRL earns $50 million from sportsbooks in Australia.
Former Sportsbet and BetEasy head Matt Tripp, has always backed the idea of taking popular Australian sports overseas, especially in the US. Tripp, who is in charge of operations at new Australian bookie betr and also is part of the ownership structure of the Melbourne Storm, said that it made perfect sense to show “the best game in the world” in a booming sports betting market.
Three Teams Are in the Mix Already
Tripp didn’t know the motives behind the deal but predicted a windfall of “tens of millions of dollars” for the NRLif the idea was to go overseas to create awareness of the sport and bring in “wagering dollars” for the league.
The Storm would be one team that would like to take part in such an initiative, Tripp said, adding that the appeal of Melbourne was that it was “a geographical place name” Americans could easily identify.
Manly is another team that has thrown its hat into the ring. Manly’s owner is based in New York and has been a strong supporter of the idea to host NRL matches in the US. He hopes that Manly’s interest will be noted and the team will be the first name on any list.
Speaking to the Herald, Penn said that his club would be “very keen” to play one of its home games in the US, as the market there was “phenomenal.” He claimed Americans were passionate about contact sports, and the NFL was a great example of a league that was really similar to the NRL, meaning the NRL would do great in the 350-million-people market.
The last team to have expressed an interest to be part of an overseas season-opener is South Sydney. The Rabbitohs have already played a game on US soil in 2008. Russell Crowe’s popularity in America would also help their bid to play in Las Vegas. Snoop Dog’s selfies while wearing Rabbitohs colours could be crucial too.
South Sydney’s chief executive Blake Solly said they were interested in any deal that would boost the profile of the sport in the US market. Solly echoed Penn’s statement that Americans relish physical sports, claiming the US market was “huge.”