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How much is too much?

The pressure is on the AFL to start restricting betting advertising as public sentiment starts to swing against it. Aussie TV is awash with betting company adverts now, not only during ad breaks but throughout local sports broadcasts. Odds updates, paid advertorial, sponsored segments, ground signage, mini-ads running across the screen during the action, jumper/shorts sponsorship - it's in epidemic proportions.

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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  1. It is very sad to see the game of AFL being swept up by Gambling.
    Television news sports reports are sponsored by Betting agencies and the discussion of the game is often based on the 'odds'.
    The Brownlow medal, for a number of years now, is basically just a glorified Betting event.. ongoing media throughout the year, talk of a particular players 'odds' for the Brownlow -as opposed to their contribution and skill in the game.
    At the sporting arenas, betting vans are set up outside to give a us chance to have a bet.. and quarter by quarter betting odds for the match are shown on the big screen.

    It just seems that the game has been overtaken by the Gambling fraternity.

    Then the AFL have the nerve to talk about protecting it's family friendly values and wheel out examples such as David Schwarz and Fev as to the dangers of gambling! Really??
    Aren't they just constantly promoting it.. via the payments from their sponsors.

    I know that they like the money.. but at what cost to ethics? Surely they can be more astute in finding deals with less damaging sponsors?

    I am also aware that gambling has also existed in AFL - condoned or not; but the game seems to be amost totally consumed by the gambling mindset.

    Me - I just want to watch the game!

  2. As you know Scott, I moved back to OZ from the UK at the end of January, and to be perfectly honest,I don't how it's that much different from the UK. Watch a horse race or EPL game and there is plenty of it there, and it's the same here. I think it's reached it's peak and the whole to much adverting movement is a product of the TAB controlled Herald Sun.

  3. says he now works for one of the main offenders! Horse racing is different, it is entirely run for betting, and crap like fashion and interviewing talentless wankers in the latest soapie on that channel just gets in the way.

    UK sport has betting advertising everywhere - on ground signage and shirts. But that's where it stops. Apart from the occasional TV ad during the breaks (and remember, they're only at half time during the match rather than after every goal), there is no other involvement. No mention from commentators, no sponsors plug, no live updates of odds being blended into the commentary or analysis. It's a good balance where it doesn't interfere with the non-punter watching the game.

    A balance has to be found somewhere - the UK has done a pretty good job of it I think.

  4. I'm also becoming a bit annoyed by the level of gambling advertising showing on TV at all hours of the day. I don't gamble at all, but I love sport. Sport is meant to be about following your team in the good times and bad, not about sitting around trying to figure out how to make money out of it. Gambling's been going on for centuries as a gimmicky tool for sharks to get money out of the naive, a bit like some parts of the financial system - (zero sum game financial derivatives come to mind). Why the human race isn't getting smarter, but gambling more and more than ever? I'll probably never know.

    I love the AFL and have been following it since I was 6 and have never placed a bet on it. It's getting tiresome to have to listen to a commentator giving the audience a description about how the current odds have changed from what they were 10 minutes ago as the game has progressed, the tenth plus reference to betting odds in the game. Why should anyone really want to know about that? If they placed a bet on the start of the game then what does this update mean for them? Unless they are continually placing bets throughout the match as the odds change which would just mean a higher turnover as a result of more independent wagers unfairly priced at the time they are made and so each being a losing proposition.

    Why can't I focus on the match without being peddled with this mindless irrelevant drivel which is aimed at the growing number of knuckledragging imbeciles dictating the flow of advertisments with their high prevelance and willingness to put up cash to lose and so be perpetual financial failures?
    What happened to the idea that advertising was responsible? Smoking advertisments are strictly banned, alcohol advertisments can't promote excess, ads can't promote dangerous driving, ads mustn't be false or misleading. So why then aren't all these sporting bet ads banned? They tell people they'll win money, that's false. They don't promote moderation, that's irresponsible. They advertise at times when kids are watching, that's dangerous.

    Now I consider myself to be a pretty free thinker, I want free markets, opportunity, competetive business and all the rest. But some things should be restricted such as promoting gambling. I would argue this for the same reason drugs should be illegal.

    Give people a large amount of more money in their pockets because they gamble less then that's more money to invest and make themselves better off, a wealthy economy is always one that's made up of wealthy individuals.


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