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AFL players to debate potential pay cut to reduce gambling advertising

The Alliance for Gambling Reform has applauded Western Bulldogs Captain Easton Wood for pushing for the AFL to extract itself from gambling deals, and to have players involved in who broadcasters can partner with.

As reported in The Age, the Western Bulldogs premiership captain and an AFL Players' Association delegate, is “driving the push that, if successful, could pressure the AFL into ensuring there is a stipulation on which companies broadcasters can partner with in the next round of rights.

“The current deal, worth $2.508 billion over six years, expires after the 2022 season. The AFL and partners Seven West Media and Foxtel are in ongoing informal discussions about the next round of negotiations.

Wood told The Age he did not know whether the playing group at the Bulldogs or across the league would support a pay cut should that be needed, but said the gambling issue had been discussed by the players' association and would be addressed further when union chief Paul Marsh visited clubs on the eve of the new season.

Rev Tim Costello, the Alliance for Gambling Reform’s Chief Advocate, applauded Mr Wood for this stand and his previous highlighting of the need to disassociate the AFL from gambling.

“Easton Wood is clearly not just a champion on the field, but also off it,” Rev Costello said.

“He is proving to be a leader in a way that the AFL should be. Easton Wood sees the harm gambling does, he hears kids speaking about him in terms of the odds he and his team are at and that disturbs him, as it does us.

“I cannot fathom how the AFL think it’s okay to be knowingly complicit in ensuring the next generation of AFL supporters will consider gambling a normal part of the game we all love.

“The cognitive dissonance between the AFL benefitting from billions of dollars from the gambling industry and then punishing players for having a bet is astounding.”

Rev Costello said the Alliance for Gambling Reform would support Easton Wood and the AFL Players’ Association in any way necessary to try and extract the AFL from its ties to gambling.

“Frankly, the AFL are being used by the gambling industry,” Rev Costello said. “The AFL, and in turn the players, are being exploited for their family-friendly image by an industry that is notorious for breaking up families.

“Gambling takes a huge toll on Australian communities, and it is not just a financial one. One of the key drivers and impacts of gambling harm is mental ill-health.

“I cannot understand how the AFL can supposedly be so concerned about promoting good mental health and yet be profiting from an industry that is literally to blame for many people’s mental ill-health.

“It’s time the AFL did the right thing and ended its relationship with an industry that profits from misery, not just for the sake of the community but also for the sake of the players who make the game so great. They deserve better.”

Media contact: Rebecca Thorpe on 0491 209 436 or rebecca@agr.org.au

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