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30 May 2022

It has long been argued that politics and sport should not mix. It’s a point passionately argued by both sides and it is an argument that may never be resolved.

Yet one thing we at the Alliance for Gambling Reform are sure about is that gambling and sport do not mix.

It is why we are passionate in our endeavours to end sports betting advertising.

The industry fails to self-regulate and has so comprehensively hijacked Australian sport today that any child under the age of 13 has not known a time when watching sport did not come with a deluge of ads quoting the betting odds.

We believe that as adults we must protect our children from the harms of adult pursuits like sports betting.

And with the recent Federal election and the victories by a number of independents – who have expressed support for action against sports betting – we have renewed hope that we can see real and lasting change – at long last.

But we also heard some other good news recently when a major sporting club committed to sell out its poker machine holdings.

Hawthorn Football Club President, Jeff Kennett, has announced that the club has agreed to terms of the sale of its Waverley Gardens venue to the Melbourne Racing Club – completing its ‘exit from gaming venue investments’.

It’s welcome news from a club, and from a club president that had steadfastly adhered to keeping their poker machines.

Other Victorian AFL clubs have already divested themselves of poker machines in their revenue including North Melbourne, the Western Bulldogs, Collingwood and Geelong.

The Melbourne Football Club is also on the way.

The Alliance welcomes the moves by these clubs. We don’t believe sports should be compromised by gambling revenue.

In a recent poll by the AFL, fans said the second biggest turn-off from the game was the endless number of sports betting ads. Second only to bad umpiring decisions.

At the Alliance we believe the time is right for change.

We believe it is long overdue that we should ban all sports gambling advertising on television, radio and online.

Last year sports gambling advertising soared to $287m and that’s before the value of online ads is included.

The industry is increasingly aggressive and will not self-regulate. It is up to the government to regulate it and to protect the community from the harms of gambling.

Indeed earlier this month Belgium declared it would move to do just this, to ban sports advertising and arguing ‘gambling is the new smoking’.

This is a path Australia should follow. Australia led the world in important public health and public interest actions in banning tobacco advertising.

It is entirely appropriate to take the same action against sports advertising. We owe it to our kids to do it again.

There are signs that the tide is turning. That people are sick of the scourge of gambling and the bombardment of sports betting ads on every platform. We hope that with your continued support we can make change a reality across our communities.

Carol Bennett CEO, Alliance for Gambling Reform

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