The Victorian Responsible Gambling Foundation today welcomed the announcement by Hawthorn Football Club that it has finalised arrangements to completely divest itself of pokies.
With the sale of its two venues, Hawthorn FC, a Love the Game partner, is the latest in a line of Victorian AFL clubs to remove gambling from its revenue stream. Other Love the Game AFL partners – North Melbourne, Western Bulldogs, Collingwood and Geelong – are free of pokies, and Melbourne Football Club is almost there.
Foundation CEO Shane Lucas said the decision by these clubs reflected community support to keep sport and gambling separate.
‘By divesting from pokies, Hawthorn Football Club is stepping away from a product that resulted in Victorians losing more than $1.5 billion in 2020–21 alone.
‘Sporting clubs at all levels, from community-based to professional, are leaders and role models within the Victorian community. The Foundation is proud to partner with Hawthorn and more than 650 other sporting clubs and associations to build a community free from gambling-related harm,’ Mr Lucas said.
Hawthorn’s announcement comes in the wake of recently released Nielsen data that showed 948 gambling ads were broadcast on free-to-air TV in Victoria every day in 2021, an increase of more than 250 per cent since 2016.
‘A generation of kids has grown up thinking that betting on sport is normal, but that doesn’t sit well with AFL fans or the broader community.
‘Victorian families love the game, not the odds, and so do Victoria’s Love the Game sporting partners,’ Mr Lucas said.
Love the Game partners, including all 10 Victorian AFL clubs, refuse to take sports gambling sponsorships and are committed to breaking the link between sport and gambling.