The AFL has come under a lot of pressure and criticism from many about their betting related advertisements. There seems to be a united outcry asking the AFL to divert from their dependence on revenue brought in from gambling ads.
Amongst those that have raised their voices against the gambling ads are folks like Easton Wood who is the Bulldogs Captain and also Bulldogs Coach Luke Beveridge. In fact, Woods even went as far to say that he would even take a pay cut happily if that what it is going to take to do the right thing for the sake of the kids coming through. Beveridge seconded Woods and said that it was a big issue in both the sport and society in general.
The Stephenson Incident
AFL player Jaidyn Stephenson has certainly not helped matters by indulging in betting himself, that too on games that he played in with Collingwood. He is not alone either, Former AFL star David Schwarz is now involved in helping players fight their gambling addictions, and there are many at that. The sport is not only dependent on the revenue raised through gambling ads, but the players themselves have become victims of gambling. Obviously, these players cannot simply blame the AFL and their gambling ads for their bad decisions, but it certainly must have played a part.
If there is a sign that it has gone too far, this has to be it!
What would happen if the AFL cancelled the corporate wagering partnership in the upcoming 2023 deal?
The AFL makes as much as $200,000 per week from its deal with BetEasy. Let us first consider how not renewing the contract will affect the AFL in terms of finances. Firstly, failing to renew the contract would translate to the AFL passing on a minimum of $10 million per year.
The betting company will use these funds instead to take their business elsewhere, and the ads might not be coming courtesy of the AFL, but you can bet your bottom dollar that the ads will still be coming from elsewhere. It is a business at the end of the day.
The AFL is going to take a big net loss and there is no way around that. In terms of finances, there is no doubt – it is a bad move for the AFL!
But alas! It is not all about money, is it?
Moral High Ground
It is without a doubt a loss as far as the finances are concerned, but it is not a loss so bad that the AFL will not survive. However, when it comes to ethics, the AFL will only gain from not renewing the contract.
The AFL will no longer be supporting an industry which has got millions of people (fans and players included) hooked on real money gambling and can destroy Australian families. A couple of clubs have weighed the pros and cons and decided to null any partnership with bookmakers and online betting companies. These clubs are, namely, Collingwood and North Melbourne. The pies got rid of their pokies and hence bowed out of involvement with gambling and gaming. Better regulation is probably the answer. Something the Aussies are really good at. Outright banning seldom works as can be seen with the pokies and best blackjack casino sites still proliferating the online space.
While it is true that no one will be able to point finger at the AFL for promoting gambling, and the AFL can claim they have a moral compass, it still does notpractically change much or affect the amount of gambling ads on air, it simply means that the betting companies will take their business elsewhere.
In fact, they could still remain in the sport by simply directly advertising at the stadium or through the telecasters, and if the telecasters would prohibit these types of ads, they would simply go onto social media platforms such as Facebook.
Bottomline – nulling the contract will not reduce advertising of gambling, it will simply change the medium of advertisement.
Loss of Stats
Another issue could come in the form of the AFL not receiving betting data anymore which is part of the current corporate agreement between the AFL and BetEasy. However, people argue that the government could mandate that the data be handed over to the AFL anyway.
Potential Work Around
A solution that would make sense both practically and morally for the AFL is to renew their contract with their corporate bookmaker partner, and use a good portion of those funds to actually help players and fans with problems by spreading awareness and directing them to deaddiction centers.
The arguments for both sides are being made. If the AFL decides to cut ties with their betting company sponsors, it is implied that the players, the coaches and the clubs will have to take pay cuts and losses. The players and coaches that are against the contract at this time are speaking from a good place, but we are afraid they don’t have a complete picture of how much sacrifice is involved and how much of a hit the AFL will take, once they do understand these points completely, they could change their stance.