The Victorian Responsible Gambling Foundation’s acting CEO, Craig Swift, today congratulated AFL Victoria for its commitment to reducing the exposure of young people to sports betting advertising.
Speaking at the match between Western suburbs rivals the Williamstown Seagulls and Footscray Bulldogs, Mr Swift said it was the emotional connection to a team or to footy itself that gave the sport value and was key to the Foundation’s Love the Game sporting club program.
This weekend, 20–22 July, marks the annual, dedicated, state-wide Love the Game round, which this year involves all 10 of Victoria’s AFL clubs, 23 Leagues and Commissions, and local clubs throughout metropolitan, regional and rural Victoria.
“Love the Game aims to counter the normalisation of gambling in sport by celebrating footy for all the positive experiences it offers that have nothing to do with the odds – skill, talent, loyalty and extraordinary moments – and the opportunity to share them with family and friends,” Mr Swift said.
The Love the Game ‘theme’ for this year focuses on reminding the community that sport and betting don’t have to go together, and encouraging adults to start talking to the kids in their care about gambling.
“Sports betting advertising makes it seem like everybody is doing it and that gambling carries no risk. This is a concern, especially with gambling opportunities available 24/7 through smartphones and apps and easily accessible credit,” he said.
“It’s sobering to think that 75 per cent of children aged eight to 16 years old believe gambling is a normal part of sport. And further, that 75 per cent of kids can name one or more sports betting companies, while 25 per cent can name four or more!
“Instead of kids in the schoolyard talking about the odds of their team winning, by how much and who will kick the most goals, Love the Game is about revelling in sport for the joy it brings to anyone who plays in, or supports, a team.
“As heroes to many young people, footy players are highly influential and have an enormous reach, which is critical to the success of Love the Game.”
Mr Swift said that both the Commonwealth and Victorian governments had recently made amendments to the legislation that regulates gambling advertising.
“However, as a community issue, parents, teachers, coaches and other role models also have a responsibility to ensure that children are able to form a realistic understanding of gambling risks and potential harms.”
For more information, visit lovethegame.vic.gov.au or share your pics and stories on social media using #LoveTheGame.