Collingwood legend and new Love the Game ambassador Scott Pendlebury is disturbed that saturation advertising is making kids think gambling on sport is part of the game.
‘You turn on the TV and you’re immediately hit with sports betting ads that just don’t seem to stop,’ Pendlebury said.
‘I don’t want my kids, or any kids, to think it’s normal to bet on sport. They should be free to just get out on the field, try their best and have fun.’
May is Love the Game month, during which the Norm Smith Medallist and six-time All-Australian is calling on all footy fans, including in his old stomping ground of Gippsland, to take up a challenge.
‘Showing kids that sport and betting don’t have to go together starts with parents and carers, teachers, coaches and role models, like footy players,’ he said.
‘The Love the Game challenge is ideal because it separates sport from gambling through activities like finding ways to talk about sport without mentioning the odds, watching a match without checking your phone, or deleting betting apps.’
In Victoria, young men aged between 18 and 24 now make up the largest group of sports bettors, while participation is rising among young women. They are the first generation to grow up constantly surrounded by betting ads and Pendlebury is eager to ensure that future generations are aware of the risks.
‘We’ve got a lot of young blokes at the club, so the older guys have a responsibility to help give them the tools they need, on and off the footy field, to make good decisions about issues that will affect their future,’ Pendlebury said.
All 10 Victorian AFL clubs have committed to the Love the Game program, along with league bodies like AFL Gippsland, whose regional manager, Cameron McPhan, is pleased to stand united with other clubs in protecting young people from the promotion of sports betting.
‘The ads make gambling seem like a fun activity to do with mates, which doesn’t reflect the reality of gambling harm or the stigma experienced by those affected,’ McPhan said.
‘That’s why, as a Love the Game partner since 2019, we prioritise equipping our young people with the knowledge and skills they need to make informed, critical decisions about gambling.
‘It’s great to have Scott on board. Having a local of his calibre support the program sends a terrific message to kids that the most important thing about sport is to love the game, not the odds.’
More than 700 Victorian sporting clubs are signed up to the Victorian Responsible Gambling Foundation’s Love the Game program. For more information about the Love the Game Challenge, visit lovethegame.vic.gov.au/challenge.