Former AFL player Easton Wood has thrown his support behind an opt-out clause that gives players the power to refuse to participate in gambling advertising.
- A small number of AFL players have opted out of appearing in promotional material for major sponsor SportsBet
- Former Bulldogs captain Easton Wood said he would make the same decision if he were playing today
- The AFL Players Association believes the league has struck the right balance with the clause
A number of current AFL players have chosen to opt out of having their image used in AFL-authorised promotional material for major sponsor SportsBet.
Wood, the former Western Bulldogs premiership captain, spoke out against the prevalence of gambling advertising during his playing career, before he retired from the game in 2021.
He says the presence of betting in sport is out of control.
“They’re seamlessly integrated into the broadcast — every break, there’s advertising on the TV, and there’s advertising around the stadium,” he said.
“And where that concerns me is that kids … are watching our game — even my own kids.
“I think it’s a dangerous thing to grow up and to be exposed to this stuff to the point where you live in a world where gambling and the AFL are synonymous with each other.”
Wood said he could not recall if he chose to opt out of having his image connected with SportsBet advertising, or if he was even aware of the option, while he was playing.
But he said he would “absolutely” and “unequivocally” opt out if he had the option today.
“Isn’t it telling that there is a sponsor of something that requires [players] to have an opt-out clause, because it can be damaging to somebody’s brand?” he said.
“What does that say about the association with the brand the AFL?”
The opt-out clause has been in place since 2019.
Speaking on ABC Radio Melbourne on Thursday, AFL Players Association CEO Paul Marsh confirmed a small number of players had opted out.
But he said the number may increase.
“This is a complex issue, but we do think we’ve struck a balance here,” he said.
“Players do share financially in these deals, and the reality is betting companies are making a lot of money out of betting on football, so we think that’s fair.
“But for some players there are moral issues around this, or other reasons, so we have struck a balance where players can opt out of it.”
Some AFL clubs have pledged not to accept money from gambling companies, but ABC Investigations has revealed Crown Resorts is offering sponsorship deals to multiple clubs, which could see them abandon that stance.
The AFL has been contacted for comment.