Players who continue to bet on rugby league could be banned for life, after Manly's David Williams was suspended for the rest of the NRL league season yesterday for gambling on games in which he played.
Former NSW and Australian representative Williams was one of five players suspended for betting on NRL fixtures as part of an integrity unit audit of betting records of more than 1500 registered players, officials and staff.
The NRL's chief operating officer Jim Doyle, says the widespread investigation found no evidence of serious abuses of the game's betting laws including match-fixing or spot-fixing.
"In the majority of cases, these were small bets - often as little as $5 - but this is a clear statement to everyone involved in rugby league that you are taking a major risk if you bet on matches," Doyle said.
"We are adopting a zero tolerance policy from this point on and, if you are caught betting on rugby league matches in the future, you will spend a long time on the sidelines or you will be sacked no matter how small the bet."
Williams, who has played seven games for Manly this season and has been stuck in reserve grade since round 10, was suspended for the rest of the season after placing multiple bets, including on several matches in which he was involved.
North Queensland's Ethan Lowe, Gold Coast's Cody Nelson and Melbourne's Hymel Hunt and Slade Griffin were all suspended for two games for betting on one game each in which their clubs were involved, but in which they didn't play.
The NRL also issued first and final warnings to 12 registered NRL players, staff and officials who it said placed small, isolated bets on matches.