Home Gambling Industry AFL viewership increasingly associated with gambling

AFL viewership increasingly associated with gambling

18 Apr 2022
3 min. read

A map of Australia with a pin on it.

The Australian Football League (AFL) thrived under the stint of its chief executive Gillon McLachlan over the past eight or so years. Since McLachlan joined in 2014, he has been able to enact changes in the AFL that led to the creation of a more sustainable business environment and better revenue for all stakeholders. However, this may have been achieved at the expense of short-sightedness.

McLachlan has tapped into the gambling world, helping the AFL receive $100 million in direct gambling partnership money, along with television rights and advertisements from various branding and likeness deals with prominent betting operators. These partnerships have permeated every possible medium, including radio, television, physical and digital, boosting the AFL’s profile and fattening its purse, but also involuntarily making one synonymous with the other.

Now, though, the generation of parents whose children grew up over the past eight years, have found out that their offspring associates gambling with the AFL and vice versa. In contrast, previous generations felt the same way about horse and greyhound racing, but that was fairly alright because the sports were less popular. The AFL on the other hand is one of the most-watched sports in the country, making it hard to resist and avoid.

Australia continues to be in a difficult position in terms of gambling losses calculated per capita. Presently, the country registers $25 billion in losses annually with the most recent results for 2021. This puts it way ahead of any gambling nation and has prompted headlines such as "The World’s Biggest Losers" in mainstream media reporting.

McLachlan's presidency of the AFL, though, was not purely focused on gambling. The partnerships struck with legitimate operators came as an opportunity to bring more money into the sport and help develop it. If anything, the government is more to blame than McLachlan who did what is best for his organization.

This realization, though, is not stopping Australian football clubs from doing right by their fans, younger audiences, and the sport. As a result, AFL clubs have been calling for a ban on gambling advertisement and sponsorships. This has been going on for some time now with the first action by clubs recorded all the way back in 2015 when North Melbourne, Melbourne Victory, Essendon, Western Bulldogs, and many others appealed to the AFL to remove the betting advertisement from AFL grounds.

Eight years into McLachlan’s terms, calls for abolishing gambling have remained strong with the man finally seeing some action on the ground whereby individual clubs have taken matters into their own hands and foregone such partnerships.

Image credit: Unsplash.com

18 Apr 2022
3 min. read