While the iSelect Gold Coast Titans endorse the NRL Integrity Unit’s vigilant stance on betting in rugby league, this Club thought it important that Titans player Cody Nelson is given the opportunity to explain the situation that saw him suspended by the NRL for two matches today for betting on an NRL match.
The activity occurred during the 2013 season when Nelson was sidelined with a season ending knee injury. After surgery he returned to his home town of Mullumbimby to recuperate and was at the local leagues club with a mate when he received an advertisement on his phone offering bonus credit for any new account opened.
He didn’t know how to open an account so his mate offered to do it for him. After opening the account his mate then placed several bets on the account without Cody’s involvement. These bets included one $10 bet on an NRL game involving the Titans.
“I have never been a punter, would not even know how to set up an online account and have never had a bet since that day,” said Nelson, who has explained the circumstances of the bet to the NRL Integrity Unit. “The account that was set up that day was actually deactivated because it was never used again.
“My mate placed the bets and I didn’t even know the details of the bets until I was contacted by the Integrity Unit a few weeks ago.
“I know I should have been more aware of the strict NRL rules about players’ betting and checked whether any of the bets that day were on NRL matches, so I have learned a valuable lesson. But I want to make it clear that I did not knowingly have a bet on the game.”
Nelson was in early stages of rehabilitation with the knee injury at the time and had no contact with Titans players leading up to the bet.
“I respect the NRL’s concern for the game’s integrity when it comes to gambling but I feel I have been harshly dealt with considering the circumstances, as I will be penalised through lost match payments if I was selected to play the next two games. However I have to accept the NRL’s decision and can’t wait now to return to the field wiser for the experience,” said Nelson.
NRL chief operating officer Jim Doyle said an audit of betting records covering more than 1500 registered players, officials and staff found no evidence of serious abuse of the betting laws or match fixing.
But the NRL had imposed a range of suspensions, terminations and warnings to those who have breached the betting rules. In addition to the terminations and suspensions listed above, first and final warnings have been issued to 12 registered NRL players, staff and officials who placed small, isolated bets on rugby league matches. They either had no connection to the matches or were unaware they were prohibited from betting on those particular matches.
None of the staff who received warnings were in senior roles or able to have any influence on the outcome of games.
In the majority of cases where warnings were issued, the bets were small – often as little as $5 – and were not on matches involving their own club.
Mr Doyle said the NRL regards betting as a serious issue and has immediately suspended five players who bet on matches involving their own club.
“There is no suggestion of match fixing or inappropriate conduct on the field by those involved, but the Integrity Unit is determined to protect the interests of all players, fans and members,” he said.
Other players suspended were:
· David Williams - suspended for the rest of the 2014 season after placing multiple bets on games - including several in which he was involved.
· Ethan Lowe - suspended for two games for betting on one game in which his club was involved – but in which he did not participate.
· Hymel Hunt - suspended for two games for betting on one game in which his club was involved – but in which he did not participate.
· Slade Griffin - suspended for two games for betting on one game in which his club was involved – but in which he did not participate.
Mr Doyle said the new zero tolerance policy would see:
· Every player from every club will be required to sign a document demonstrating that they fully understand and will comply with the NRL’s betting rules.
· All staff and officials will be required to confirm that they fully understand and will comply with the betting rules.
· Audits of betting records will be conducted more regularly to detect if any breaches occur.
· Players, staff and officials will in future face termination or suspension for any breach – no matter how small the bet is.