More Australian Football League (AFL) clubs are signing up to a charter to end sponsorship and fundraising tied to gambling.
The St. Kilde, Essendon, and the Western Bulldogs have signed the Victorian Responsible Gambling Foundation’s ‘Gambling’s Not A Game’ program to remove the promotion of betting at their clubs and matches, joining the Hawthorn, Collingwood, North Melbourne and Melbourne Victory clubs.
Under the charter, the clubs commit to refrain from making sponsorship deals with sports betting companies as well as keeping gambling away from areas young people are present including club, social and fundraising activities.
The clubs signing up to the charter have met with cynicism as the majority of elite signatories have poker machine interests. Punters at Hawthorne-owned venues lost more than $22m in 2014. The Collingwood, Essendon, the Bulldogs and St. Kilda also have pokies.
“As a high-profile sporting organization and one that operates a gaming venue, we have a responsibility to our supporters and the wider community that we take very seriously and part of that responsibility is to help promote responsible gambling,” said St Kilda CEO Matt Finnis.
Clubs that own or operate poker machines also commit to engage with the Gambler’s Help venue support program and help services.
According to Victorian Responsible Gambling Foundation chief executive Serge Sardo, the charter is not an anti-gambling message but a commitment to minimize the exposure of gambling activities and advertising to young people.
Sardo added that more than 140 elite and local sporting clubs across Victoria have now joined the foundation’s charter, which started in October 2013 with North Melbourne and Melbourne Victory the first clubs to join, and Collingwood and Hawthorn coming on board in 2014.