AFL Fans Association concurs with parliamentary committee’s recommendation to ban gambling ads

Published on:

The AFL Fans Association (AFLFA) has stated that the Australian Football League (AFL) fans are now exasperated by the prevalence of gambling advertisements across the board. The president of AFLFA, Ron Issko mentioned that the advertisements can be seen on television, radio, online media and even at the stadiums, thus pervading almost all the touchpoints of a fan with the league.

Earlier this year, the AFLFA had conducted a survey involving 3000 fans in which they found that 76% of them supported a total ban on gambling advertisements on television and radio while 79% wished to see the same at the stadiums.

Meanwhile, a parliamentary committee inquiry report on online gambling was recently released in which, out of the 31 recommendations, one of them is to ban all types of gambling advertisements in a phased manner in the next three years. The committee contended that the advertisements were causing serious harm and “grooming children” to gamble in future which is what the AFLFA president also complained of.

“It’s become normalised that kids think footy and gambling are one and the same. They think that when you barrack for a team you also should be betting because it’s everywhere and everyone does it. That’s the thing people want to stop so that if you want to gamble you’ve got to go somewhere and gamble rather than sitting there and having it in your face,” Issko said as quoted by Sky News Australia.

The fan association, however, said that it understands that a ban cannot be enforced immediately considering the commercial commitments (multi-year deals) of various clubs and the league with the gambling companies but believes the advertisements can be gradually reduced.

“We’re not saying get rid of gambling, we’re saying stop the advertising, stop bombarding us, stop grooming our kids to be future gamblers and stop inundating us and stop normalising it. Overnight the most realistic thing will be limit the number of gambling ads so that kids aren’t exposed to it,” Issko added.

Gambling sponsorships hold great significance for the AFL as it allows the league to sufficiently fund its various tournaments from the top to the grassroots, along with helping it to improve infrastructure and participation rates. The apex body receives not only the sponsorship monies from the gambling companies but also a share of the latters’ revenues. According to Issko the AFL is estimated to earn between A$30-$40 million annually from them.

As a result, many stakeholders, including some of the ones who are against gambling advertisements, believe that an immediate ban on gambling sponsorship will not be feasible for the league. The AFL CEO Gillon McLachlan warned that a blanket ban, if implemented, can adversely affect the sport.

The league has been asked to look for alternative and sustainable ways to fund the sport with fans and organisations offering to provide solutions.