It’s been described as the worst beat in sports betting history – by those who backed it, anyway!
Champion Bets NRL expert analyst Steve Green advised the bet to members in the pre-season: the Dragons to be the NRL ladder leaders at the halfway mark of the season (after Round 13).
One unit on at what was, according to Steve, the very juicy odds of $21.
The Dragons actually had the bye fixtured in Round 13, so they had to be on top after Round 12, and stay there throughout Round 13, for the bet to collect.
It was looking like a great bet as the Dragons sat atop the ladder from Round 1 until Round 11. In Round 12 they faced the Panthers, who happened to be sitting second and were the only team within striking distance of knocking the Dragons off the top over Rounds 12 and 13, and spoiling Steve’s bet.
“Without tooting my own horn, I thought it was a ripper bet,” Steve told us on the Betting 360 podcast recently.
“I’d done a lot of analysis on the draw and was confident it was a really good bet.”
The Dragons didn’t even have to win to stay on top – even if they lost, they just needed to keep the losing margin to less than 26 points to retain top spot on the ladder and keep the Panthers in second place.
For the ladder leaders!? Bank it.
But the score that night at Penrith Stadium?
Panthers. By… you guessed it, 26 points. Final score, 28–2.
The bet was even looking good until the last thirty seconds of the match… at which point the Panthers scored a try, which was converted, to stretch the margin from 20 points to the fateful 26.
Thirty seconds from glory!
This left the Dragons and the Panthers dead level on 20 competition points, and dead level on the ladder tiebreaker – match points differential – with +109 each.
That last converted try meant they couldn’t be separated.
This put a decent dent in what would have been a great profit of 20 units on one bet. Dead-heat rules, with bookies paying out at half-odds of $10.50, put the profit on the bet at 9.5 units. Disappointing, but still decent.
The real disappointment was yet to come!
While some bookies did simply result as a dead-heat and pay out accordingly, others placed the Panthers as the sole ladder leaders, meaning Dragons backers such as Steve got nothing.
To Steve’s dismay, the bookies he’d bet with had settled the bet as a loss. He made enquiries with the NRL Integrity Unit who, to his surprise, ruled the Dragons had finished second.
“They pulled out an obscure rule from an ‘NRL Operations Manual’, which isn’t made public and isn’t specified in the bookies’ market rules. It specified the use of percentage in the event of a tie on both competition points and match points differential,” said Steve.
“No ladder published by the NRL has ever showed percentage as a measure,”
The NRL came to its conclusion because the Panthers “were the team highest on the ladder at the time based on a greater percentage of points scored for and against.”
This interpretation left the Panthers on top with 164.88%, and the Dragons second with 156.77%.
The dispute next went to the Northern Territory Racing Commission (the bookies concerned are licensed in the NT), who referred it to their full panel for judgement. It took more than nine months to resolve, with the NTRC panel finally handing down their judgement last week.
Unfortunately for Steve and other punters who bet with the bookies concerned, the judgement went against them. The decision read:
“Licensing NT betting inspectors have examined a number of competition rounds throughout the 2018 season and have demonstrated to the commission that the methodology as detailed in the NRL 2018 Operations Manual has been applied consistently by the NRL throughout the 2018 season in determining ladder positions of all of the teams in the competition.
“That being the case, the Commission is satisfied that the NRL had determined that the Panthers were the leaders of the competition at both Round 12 and Round 13 of the 2018 season.”
A shocking beat just got a whole lot worse…
It’s a very disappointing decision. It is hard enough to make a profit punting as it is, but when the rules are literally not known to all involved until after the fact, it makes it impossible to manage your risk and place a hedging bet.
I cannot understand why the Commission thought that it was the duty of punters to make enquiries with the NRL about how the market would be settled. I thought because the official NRL Ladder uses Points Differential to separate teams tied on Competition Points, there was nothing to enquire about.
The decision maker did not explain why punters would have thought to contact the NRL, and whether that is a reasonable thing to ask all punters to do. This is taking any onus away from the NRL and the bookies to be proactive and transparent.
The point of the complaint was that it was reasonable for punters to assume that a dead heat for the halfway leader market was possible, as nothing on the NRL website or the bookmakers website suggested otherwise.
I am investigating further options, such as taking action against the National Rugby League for misleading and deceptive conduct under the Competition and Consumer Act 2010 in small claims court. The NRL make a lot of money from betting agencies and punters, and they have a clear duty to make sure the information they provide to the market is complete and accurate (which in this case it was not).
As an aside, it would appear (from a cursory look at their websites), that a number of major bookmakers are not offering a “half-way ladder leader” for the NRL this season.
Sportsbet, which unlike many others settled the 2018 bets as a dead-heat between the Dragons and the Panthers, have a market available for 2019.
Leaving the disappointment of 2018’s Futures behind, Steve Green is back for the season ahead with his NRL Tips service.
A profitable 2018 in which Steve’s members finished with $2,300 profit, made it three straight winning years for the service.
2019 is set to be another big year as Steve looks to add to his $8,800 profit over the last three years.
Follow him in and start winning on the footy this season.