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Russell Crowe and the Rugby Gambling Revolution

I have great respect for Russell Crowe as an actor. He blew me away with his role in the Gladiator and all I’ve rushed to see all subsequent films of his. I can’t say much about the guy’s opinion on gambling and sports sponsorship, however.  That is, until I heard that Crowe has had a change of heart and has become “one of us”. 

It all started in 2007, when Russell Crowe decided to pitch for non-gambling sponsorship for his beloved South Sydney Rabbitoh rugby team, along with co-owner Peter Holmes. At the time, Crowe preached the necessity to push for “less poker machines than before” at the club’s Redfern base and tried his best to insulate the club members from the “evils” of gambling.

And so, it was with great surprise that I read this week that Crowe has done a 180 degree turnaround on this decision after the Rabbitohs signed a three year jersey sponsorship deal with none other than … the Star City Casino.  It cannot be argued that much of the casino’s profits come from pokie machines – the same ones that Crowe fought against so hard in 2007. But, according to the actor, Star City is “not just about gambling.”

 Crowe still managed to have his say against pokie machines, but had to water down the criticism somewhat because of the sponsorship deal.  “We’re living a state where the revenue from pokie machines actually pays for our hospitals, so I have my own personal opinions about these sorts of things,” he said. “But what we’re talking about here is a connection between two organizations that are all about entertainment, they are all about the future of Sydney.”

Crowe also admitted that he, too, enjoys the ocasional sports bet. “I’m not a fan of pokies and I’ve made that clear in the past,” he said. “But, like most Australians, when Melbourne Cup time comes around, I’m going to have a bet.”  He stressed that he does not bet on football, just for the record!

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