The AFL and cricket are the worst at it, but are not the only culprits. I love a punt, it's the industry which has been my chosen profession for almost all of my post-uni life, but enough's enough. When it gets so intrusive that some people can no longer watch a match live (big screens are just as bad) or on TV, then it is a problem. These are sports where it's traditional that fathers bring their kids along etc. When it starts getting to plague proportions and parents start wanting to remove their kids from that environment, it's time to act.
Other 'vices' have their restrictions on advertising. Alcohol ads are only allowed at certain times of day. Putting a notice of 'over 18s only' on the base of the screen is not enough. Companies such as Betfair, Centrebet, Sportsbet and the TABs won't cut back on their own - their advertising is as much about denying others the space as it is chasing new accounts.
Nobody's calling for a return to the dark old days when the TAB had a monopoly and there was no other advertising allowed. But it's time for realistic caps on the amount which is allowed and how intrusive it gets.
But of course, it's all about money now. Clubs need sponsors and with the economy in dire straits, who else is going to splash the cash? At a club level, it's not too bad until you get down to the level of direct marketing to members, including juniors, a step too far. Do St Kilda (major sponsor Centrebet) take the sponsor's badge off junior size jumpers?
The league have their hands out too, demanding access to betting data for integrity purposes and signing partnership deals with Betfair and TABCorp. They are the only sporting body in the world, to my knowledge, that integrates live betting odds into their match previews and live scores on the official website. Surely that's going too far?
The pendulum of public sentiment has swung sharply in recent weeks with the press really jumping on it now. A few high-profile cases of gambling addiction amongst current and ex-players and the AFL are facing a tidal wave of protests.
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