While the Bulldogs and Rabbitohs were rivals on the field during last Sunday’s NRL match, off the field, they were united in their stance against sports betting sponsors.

Both clubs recently teamed up with GambleAware’s Reclaim the Game initiative, which encourages sporting clubs to reject sports betting advertising. Reclaim the Game aims to educate staff, players and fans about the risks related to gambling and challenge the normalisation of betting in sport.

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Director of the Office of Responsible Gambling, Natalie Wright, said the program is particularly important given that the NRL is inundated with betting advertising.

“Betting companies are increasingly using sport to promote their product. Reclaim the Game challenges this and raises awareness of the risks of gambling,” Ms Wright said.

“The NRL fan base is huge, and gambling advertising is everywhere, including at sporting games and on TV, which means if you’re a supporter, you usually can’t avoid seeing it.

“On Sunday, fans and families got back to what the game is about - without letting a bet take them away from the match.

“It's encouraging to see an NRL match with two teams who both stepped up to say no to sports betting advertising, and we’re sure the Bulldogs and Rabbitohs fans appreciated the atmosphere.”

Rabbitohs CEO, Blake Solly, said making a stand against sports wagering sponsors is the Club’s way of giving back to the community.

“Our community plays such a big role in our club, so we felt Reclaim the Game was a campaign we could support to reduce community exposure to sports betting advertising,” Mr Solly said.

“We believe we play a style of football that entertains everyone in the family and that there isn’t the need to have a bet on the game to enjoy it.

“We’re proud to support Reclaim the Game and their desire to effect cultural change around sports betting advertising.”

Bulldogs CEO, Aaron Warburton, said rugby league is made even more entertaining when betting is out of the picture.

“It is a great spectacle for fans, players and staff to enjoy sport in its purest form, without any distractions or the temptation to gamble,” Mr Warburton said.

“It was pleasing to see Sunday’s clash between two of the game’s proudest clubs taking place without the presence of sports betting advertising.”

Like many individual NRL teams, the NRL has betting sponsorships at an overarching code level. The Bulldogs and Rabbitohs are the first teams to pledge to remove betting advertising wherever they can.

No matter which team you support or whether you’re a fan at all, this is an important step towards a more balanced relationship between sport and betting.

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