Leading AFL club CEO slams code's reliance on gambling money

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More clubs are signing up to a charter to end sponsorship and fundraising tied to gambling as a senior AFL official slams the code's reliance on gambling for revenue.

A leading AFL administrator says he's embarrassed at the code's heavy reliance on the advertising of sports-betting.

The remarks coincide with three more AFL clubs signing on to a charter ending sponsorship and fundraising linked to betting agencies.

Today administrators from AFL clubs St Kilda, the Western Bulldogs and Essendon signed up to the Victorian Responsible Gambling Foundation's charter. They join Collingwood Football Club as signatories to the charter.

Speaking to SBS, Collingwood CEO Gary Pert pulled a few punches, voicing his displeasure at the reliance the code appears to place on advertising of sports-betting.

“I'm disappointed, I'm embarrassed on behalf of the AFL about the amount of exposure - I think it's totally inappropriate. There's got to be some balance and respect brought into the consideration of the impact of those messages,” Mr Pert said.

Victorian Responsible Gambling Foundation CEO Serge Sado says now six AFL clubs, A-League Premiers, the Melbourne Victory and 144 junior clubs are also onboard.

“These clubs decide to not partner with wagering companies and do a number of other activities so we're really, really proud,” Mr Sado said.

After a career with Port Adelaide, StKilda and Hawthorn, former AFL player Brent Guerra developed a problematic gambling habit which he says wreaked havoc on his life.

“You start borrowing money off people - it becomes a massive problem and that's when the lies start. The last thing you want to do is borrow money from friends and family,” Guerra said. 

Guerra has no doubts the constant exposure to advertising in sport is enticing for problem gamblers.

Addiction therapist Jack Nagle from Dayhab said the amount of clients presenting as problem gamblers has increased significantly in the past two years, and many cite the influence of advertising as a powerful lure.

“They turn the TV on the weekend to watch the football and there's just gambling ads everywhere and they might not want to gamble but they just can't stop thinking about it because they're being bombarded with so much advertising,” Mr Nagle said.

Today's signing coincides with Responsible Gambling Awareness week.

If you or someone you know has been affected by problem gambling you can call: 1800 858 858

Or visit: http://www.gamblinghelponline.org.au/ 

Source: SBS

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