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Bookmakers remove under 20s markets due to match-fixing threats

Nick Weeks prohibits bookmaker markets
Newly appointed chief operating officer, Nick Weeks, prohibits under-20s markets.

Punters can no longer bet on NRL under 20s games, as the league cracks down potential match fixing.

Following allegations that West Tigers’ Tim Simona was betting on opposition players, the NRL banned certain bet types and completely prohibited bookmakers from offering bets on the traditional feeder competition.

Australian bookmakers have been offering head to heat bets and exotic bet types like most metres gained and tackles made, but the new rules these bet types won’t be available on NRL matches, because power brokers feel they are too easily manipulated.

Under the agreement, bookies are required to enter into an arrangement with the NRL before any options on senior matches are allowed to be offered.

To put the new rules in place the NRL has created a position where the appointed employee will monitor the market and liaise with bookmakers.

Newly appointed chief operating officer, Nick Weeks, revealed the league emailed bookmakers in December after suggestions prominent figures were allegedly engaging in match fixing last year.

It has been revealed the under 20s matches were targeted due to the ability to make squad changes at that level.

The police formed Strike Force Nuralda to investigate these claims that are said to involve two Manly matches last season.

Although a spokesperson has stressed the decision was made after these claims, but before the incident with Simona, the prohibition is only now being enforced.

“We communicated last year to betting agencies that they would no longer be permitted to offer a whole range of bets which are loosely statistical-based bets — player runs, over and under stuff,” Weeks told the Australian.

“We have put a line through a whole series of those type of exotic bets.

“And we’re going to prohibit betting on the NYC [National Youth Competition] this year.

“So there are some things that we have been doing without a whole lot of fanfare, in the background.”

The West Tigers star centre, Simona is facing a lifetime ban if he doesn’t refute the allegations he placed wagers on opposing players to score tries, as revealed on social media.

Strike Force Nuralda is also involved with addressing these accusations, though it has been reported inquiries will not yet be expanded.

Simona has until Friday to respond.

Weeks has been a key figure in managing the NRL’s integrity unit in regards to match and spot fixing, with ongoing liaison with police to ensure the NRL is on top of things.

“The truth is that the gambling markets are growing rapidly and will continue to grow,” Weeks said.

“We’re going to continue to invest in people and tools to try to manage the risks around the game.”

The recent appointee is a key component to cracking down on potential match-fixing, but Weeks refused to reveal their name.

Instead he has praised NRL chief executive, Todd Greenberg, for his role in the integrity unit, and revealed he was part of the decision to create the new role.

“This guy is an expert in this area and what he is going to be doing is … really monitoring the detail of what is really happening in the betting markets and having as much visibility as to who is betting and what they are betting on,” Weeks said.

“Todd understands footy and he understands where the risks are so since he has taken the job I have never had any difficulty getting the level of investment or focus in that area.

“So now I will move to a new position but I am still accountable for that and I will be able to drive that a little harder.”

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