(L to R) Victorian Responsible Gambling Foundation chief executive Serge Sardo, Richmond Football Club chief executive Brendon Gale and Minister for Gaming and Liquor Regulation Jane Garrett
The cheers had barely subsided from round one of the AFL season when talk about the amount of gambling advertising started.
The backlash from footy fans was swift, with calls for the sport's governing body to step up and address the gambling takeover of the great game.
For the Victorian Responsible Gambling Foundation, however, round one wrapped up with an important signing with another AFL team committing to our responsible gambling charter and reducing the visibility of gambling in and around their club.
Melbourne Football Club is the ninth AFL club to sign the responsible gambling charter, joining Carlton, Richmond, North Melbourne, Collingwood, Western Bulldogs, Hawthorn, Essendon and St Kilda.
Watch Melbourne signing the charter:
A-League soccer's Melbourne Victory, cricket's Melbourne Stars and Melbourne Renegades from the Big Bash League, and around 150 local sporting clubs from across the state have also signed the charter.
Chief executive Serge Sardo says partnering with the elite clubs means the foundation's messages are reaching hundreds of thousands of sports fans.
'The AFL clubs alone have almost 500 thousand members with millions of people following the clubs on Facebook and Twitter.
'Through our partnerships, we are promoting our messages like putting the game before the odds and focusing on the passion, not the gamble,' he says.
'Every club that has signed the charter has been inundated with positive feedback from members.'
Jane Garrett, Minister for Gaming and Liquor Regulation
The Melbourne signing came hot on the heels of Carlton also committing to the program with card-carrying Blues member, Minister for Gaming and Liquor Regulation Jane Garrett saying she's proud her club is standing up for fans.
'Every club that has signed the charter has been inundated with positive feedback from members who are fed up with the normalisation of gambling.
'Reducing the exposure of young fans to messages about gambling and educating players and fans about the risks are key to reducing gambling harm in our community,' she says.
Watch Carlton signing the charter:
Limiting young fans' exposure to gambling messages
While the wider debate about gambling advertising rages, the foundation and more than 160 sporting clubs statewide are working to limit young fans' exposure to gambling messages via our sporting clubs program.
The program and the charter require clubs to:
- walk away from sports betting sponsorships
- commit to furthering responsible gambling practices in their venues
- maintain a separation between gambling and sporting activities
- not promote sports betting or gambling signage in or around the club, including ground signage
- hold education sessions about the risks of gambling for players, club members and staff
- not include gambling prizes in any social or fundraising activities
- promote the help services available via Gambler's Help.
Serge Sardo says the program is about countering the growing culture of gambling in sport.
'Gambling is changing the way young people experience sport, but we stand with the clubs who want to send the message that the game is exciting enough without having a bet,' he says.