Despite Australian anti-online gambling laws, one of the world's most successful online poker operations, Full Tilt Poker, may use a clever loophole to sign a lucrative sponsorship deal with Australia's National Rugby League (NRL) to advertise its brand on the various NRL team websites.
According to recent reports, the NRL has circulated an email amongst its various clubs advising them that the League is considering promoting Full Tilt Poker by pointing traffic to its .net site. And this is a loophole, because the FullTiltPoker.net site does not carry any real money poker products or services.
In other words, the .net site is designed for entertainment and informational purposes only and players are only able to download a 'play money' online poker room. But because there are no links to Full Tilt's actual .com online poker room, Australian authorities are expected to allow the sponsorship to go ahead.
Because Full Tilt Poker is based outside Australia, it is not permitted to offer real money poker facilities to Australian citizens. Last week the NRL informed its clubs that should they allow Full Tilt Poker to host banners on their respective websites, they could expect a share of the AUS$100,000 sponsorship fee.
Said NRL official Damien Mahoney in the email: 'At this stage, they are looking at a long-term involvement (6-12 months) with an investment of over 100k, incorporating display advertising and brand integration into the content of the sites.
'However, as this is new territory for the network and a potentially sensitive area, we have proposed that a smaller display campaign be trialed over the next few months. The advertising will only promote their 'practice' site where no money changes hands.'
And Full Tilt Poker is not the only leading online gambling concern canvasing the Australian online gambling market with a .net site. It seems Poker Stars already has a sponsorship deal in place with NRL team, the Cronulla Sharks, which boasts the PokerStars.net logo and link at the bottom of its homepage.
According to a report compiled last year by the Productivity Commission - which was set up by the Australian government - Australians spend as much as AUS$790 million every year on offshore online betting websites, three times more than they spend on domestic sports betting.