.The AFL should be about footy, not gambling. Here's why:
Poker machines hurt AFL fans
The AFL is reluctant to talk about it, but poker machines owned by AFL clubs take $93 million each year from fans. The majority of this staggering amount comes from a people who are really being hit hard - losing on average $21,000 a year each - a quarter of the average wage. When it's that bad, it's no wonder people are 4 times more likely to have a problem with alcohol and 6 times more likely to be divorced.
It's no accident, and people hurt by poker machines aren't mugs - these machines are designed to be addictive, and to trick people in a number of specifically engineered designs. Read more about how poker machines are designed to addict here.
Aggressive sports betting is destroying our game
Online sports betting is a new threat. Right now, pokies still cause far more damage - taking almost $14 billion nationally (including casinos), compared to just over $1 billion from sports gambling. However, the losses from sports betting are growing much more rapidly, and need to be dealt with now while it's not too late.
If you feel like gambling advertising is everywhere during AFL matches live or on TV, you're not wrong. Researchers at La Trobe University carried out a detailed study of the amount of sports betting advertising, and found that between sponsorships, scoreboards and ad breaks, gambling ads come in just behind major sponsors.
This saturation advertising is what our kids are growing up with as they watch their team. The advertising is normalising gambling, with parents horrified that their kids can recite betting odds.
While you can't put your credit card in a poker machine, you can for sports betting. It's all too easy to get credit linked directly to a gambling account, making it very easy to wind up in devastating debt very quickly.
Gambling on the AFL also creates a powerful driver for match-fixing, which we've already seen in other sports. This affects the integrity of the AFL, getting to the heart of a fair game.