Earlier this week we were delighted to learn the AFL’s Western Bulldogs have finalised the sale of their remaining 65 poker machines, ending an era of profiting from harm and officially becoming another proudly pokies-free club!
This hard-fought win follows a tremendous effort over many years led by our lived experience advocates and supporters who worked tirelessly to hold their club to account. Together you signed petitions, showed up at games, wrote to club board members and in the case of Stuart McDonald, even ran for the Bulldogs’ board! Less than nine months later the club announced they were getting out, and here we are now - what a satisfying result!
This is not just a moral win, it’s a strategic win too. The more an industry is exposed for the damage it causes, the more it becomes socially unacceptable to be making money from an industry causing harm, and the easier it is for governments to tighten regulations. It is a powerful indicator of progress for our movement because every time clubs like the Bulldogs or businesses like Woolies decides to get out, they tacitly acknowledge that the damage done to their reputation by owning pokies outweighs the benefits of the cash they bring in. Every rejection of poker machines is done in recognition that the machines are devastating people’s lives and out of step with community standards.
Every person involved in advocating for this outcome should be immensely proud, particularly those personally harmed by gambling who continue to share their stories, often at great personal cost, to help make the change necessary to ensure our clubs and pubs are safe for everyone to enjoy. Thank you!
The Bulldogs join North Melbourne, Collingwood, Geelong and Melbourne who have all divested or committed to divesting from poker machine ownership. You may recall when the Alliance was formed in 2015, only one of the ten Victorian Clubs had taken a stand against gambling. Since then, over half of all AFL clubs can now say they are proudly-pokies free. In the case of Geelong, they have also become the first AFL stadium in Australia to have banned all gambling advertising at home games. Momentum is truly building and it’s all thanks to people like you!