Footie fans in Australia are worried about what their favorite game has come to according to a new poll originally reported by The Age, an Australian media outlet. Among the issues that commonly spark debate are umpiring and rule changes, but a good number of fans (37%) are also worried about the prevalence of gambling ads in the Australian Football League (AFL).
Gambling Advertisement Are a Problem
To establish attitudes towards the main concerns among soccer aficionados, the AFL Fans Association, a grassroots group that lobbies for the sport and the AFL in Australia, released a poll that saw gambling ads cited as one of the biggest concerns for most fans out there. Overall, 860 fans participated in the poll aged 18 to 84. Out of these, 71% were club members or in other words, they were intimately involved with the AFL and soccer in the country.
Attitudes towards gambling fluctuated between respondents, but a significant part of fans cited it as a concern. Some 12% even said it was the leading problem in the AFL presently while another 37% said that they were among the biggest concerns they had about the sport. Umpiring and rule changes came first for the 37% who cited gambling second. In Australia, much like in the United Kingdom, the country has something like a watershed ban on the advertisement.
Live television broadcasts only broadcast gambling ads after the 8:30 pm watershed, but sports betting continues to be one of the fastest-developing gambling verticals in the country, empowered by remote gaming platforms. Regardless, Australian sportsbooks face a number of restrictions. For example, in-play wagers are only placed over the phone, and affiliates or the sportsbooks may not openly advertise bonuses to unregistered sports fans.
According to AFLFA president Cheryl Critchley, gambling advertising is an issue and it has been on the rise. Among the body’s members, there are numerous individuals who work against the normalization of gambling in sports, Critchley explained. He said that his personal experience is something that motivates him, explaining that his children grew up when gambling was saturated through public channels.
Fans Love the Game, Nevermind Their Gambling Attitude
At the same time, the AFL remains a great unifier in the country, explains University of Sydney sports-gambling specialist Dr Steve Georgakis. Georgakis explains that the AFL attracts people who love to watch the game and gamble, but also those who hate gambling, but this doesn’t stop them from enjoying soccer, only wish that gambling was not a part of it.
In the meantime, other sports franchises in Australia have been joining the “Reclaim the Game” campaign launched by the Office of Responsible Gambling that aims to clear sports from gambling. Gambling has been able to remain a visible part of sports worldwide at a time when traditional sponsors have been more reluctant to withdraw from the sport, making it hard for clubs to operate at a good pace.