Sportsbet Suspends Greyhound Betting Market Over ‘Racist Comment’

Posted on: March 13, 2024, 11:43h. 

Last updated on: March 13, 2024, 11:57h.

Australian-facing online betting company Sportsbet was forced to pull the betting market on the final race at Maitland Greyhound Track on Monday. That’s after a “racist” message appeared in its live feed.

Ezra Mam
Ezra Mam, main image, the rugby league player who was the victim of racism in Las Vegas, and “Ezra Man,” bottom left, the racing greyhound named after him. (Image: AAP/Greyhound Recorder)

The controversy surrounded a racing dog named for the Indigenous Australian rugby player Ezra Mam. On the same day as the race, another Australian rugby player, Spencer Leniu, was handed an eight-match suspension from the sport. That’s after he was determined by a tribunal to have called Mam a “monkey” during a National Rugby League (NRL) exhibition match in Las Vegas’ Allegiant Stadium on March 2.

Just hours after Leniu accepted the penalty, social media users spotted that the form comments for two-year-old greyhound “Ezra Man,” the favorite and eventual winner of the race, also contained a racist message.

It read: “Go Bananas! Let’s see if we can get some positive headlines, tonight??”

The feed was provided to Flutter-owned Sportsbet by Greyhound Racing New South Wales as part of several content services it offers operators.

‘Highly Offensive’

Sportsbet suspended betting on the race after screenshots of the comment began circulating on social media.

“We are extremely disappointed highly offensive and inappropriate comments supplied by a third party were automatically published on our platforms,” a Sportsbet spokesperson said on Tuesday morning.

We do not tolerate hate speech, discrimination, and racism in our organization, on our platforms, or by our partners. We will continue to call it out and unreservedly apologize for the distress this has caused,” the spokesperson added.

Greyhound Racing NSW said Tuesday it was “appalled” by the comment and apologized “unreservedly for … the distress it has caused.”

A source inside the organization told The Sydney Morning Herald that the staffer responsible had been fired.

Las Vegas Showcase

The NRL event in Las Vegas was the first time that high-profile rugby league games had been showcased to a live U.S. audience, and the spectacle was marred somewhat by the racism controversy.

Lenui, who is of Samoan extraction, told the NRL panel Monday that “at the time I thought it was one brown man saying something to another brown man.” Leniu claimed he did not fully understand the racial connotations of the term or even that Mam was Indigenous Australian.

But Lachlan Gyles, counsel for the NRL, wasn’t buying it.

“It is beyond argument that in Australia in 2024, calling an Indigenous person a monkey does constitute racial abuse, and racial abuse of a very serious nature,” Gyles said.

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