Essendon takes stand against betting industry

Essendon takes stand against betting industry

Friday, June 26, 2015
Chief executive Xavier Campbell is willing to take a financial hit

Essendon has become the latest AFL Aussie Rules football club to state that it will not consider signing partnerships with betting companies.

The Melbourne team’s chief executive Xavier Campbell said the move aimed to curb the impact of gambling messages among members and particularly children and young adults.

Fellow Victoria clubs Collingwood, Hawthorn and the Western Bulldogs have already said they will not consider betting partners, while North Melbourne says it will not take any gambling revenue, including from pokies venues.

Campbell added that Essendon, which has seen record commercial revenues this year, is in a position to look beyond the gambling industry, even if that would mean “short-term financial pain”.

“This decision wasn’t made lightly, particularly with the revenue a wagering partner can deliver,” Campbell said. “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.”

The move comes in the same week that Hawthorn player Brent Guerra told the Herald Sun newspaper that there was a serious gambling problem at his club, and North Melbourne’s Drew Petrie said that betting is “the biggest social problem in AFL football”.

The AFL itself has a prominent sponsorship with Beteasy, with the Northern Territory-licensed wagering operator set to pay a reported AUD$50m (€34.4m/$38.5m) over the course of the five-year deal that began in April.

Carlton, Fremantle, Greater Western Sydney, Port Adelaide, Richmond and St Kilda have commercial deals with betting agencies, while Adelaide, Sydney and West Coast have sponsorships with casinos.

The attitude towards gambling industry partners is not shared by clubs in other sports and regions, with European football teams Chelsea and Atletico Madrid this week agreeing deals with BetVictor and Plus500 respectively. TotallyGaming.com reported on Wednesday that US fantasy sports operator FanDuel had signed multi-year partnerships with 13 NBA basketball franchises.

“We certainly respect the right of betting agencies to advertise in sport,” Campbell said. “But as an industry we need to proactively monitor the way this message is delivered particularly given many of our fans are children.

“In forming this decision we also took into consideration the feeling of our membership base who have expressed a sense of concern.”

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