Australian football club Essendon has ended its commercial partnerships with betting and wagering companies.
Essendon Chief Executive Xavier Campbell said that the decision was not taken lightly given the highly lucrative nature of deals but added that it was a necessary stand to take against the negative impact of gambling.
The club also acknowledged that the move may cause some short-term financial pain, but says it’s focusing on strengthening relationships with other partners.
“We have a fantastic group of commercial partners and we will be directing our energy to nurturing these existing relationships, as well as establishing new partnerships with like-minded companies,” said Campbell.
According to Nielsen study, sports betting agencies spent around $50 million on TV, radio and print advertising in 2013.
“We certainly respect the right of betting agencies to advertise in sport,” Campbell added. “But as an industry we need to proactively monitor the way this message is delivered particularly given many of our fans are children.
The decision comes after Hawthorn Hawks player Brent Guerra’s revelation of a four-year gambling addiction where he lost over $400,000
2015 is a difficult year for Essendon with its poor on-field performances and a supplements saga that continues to haunt them.
Essendon has been investigated since February 2013 by the Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority (ASADA) over the legality of its supplements program during the 2012 AFL season and the preceding preseason.
Sports scientist Stephen Dank, who was found guilty on 10 counts of breaching the AFL’s anti-doping code in April, has been handed a lifetime ban by World Anti-Doping Agency (Wada) for his role in the Essendon supplements controversy.
Dank is barred from working again in any other sport that is a signatory to the Wada code.
Despite the club’s issues, it is well-placed to absorb the potential financial losses from the decision, delivering record commercial revenues this season and boasting membership numbers nearing the 60,000 mark.
The Bombers are the latest in a number of AFL clubs to walk away from the gambling industry, following the Kangaroos, Collingwood, Hawthorn and the Western Bulldogs, which have agreed not to sign commercial agreements with sports betting companies.