I love sport of all kinds - tragic, I know. I deplore the position taken by the AFL and NRL in opposing changes in gambling legislation designed to address problem gambling.
I consider sport to be an overwhelming net plus in terms of the health of our community whether participation is through playing, watching, joining a club, umpiring, officiating, selling pies and hot dogs to raise money for the club - whatever - all good! But I deplore the ubiquitous presence of the gambling industry in sport as they try to purchase community credibility while gaining significant income from the vulnerable. How dare they claim the high moral ground in this issue?
I applaud the way sporting organisations are starting to tackle sexism and racial discrimination. Why would they now 'drop the moral ball' and oppose legislation designed not to outlaw gaming, but to make it safer for people who are addicted to it?
It rings hollow when major football leagues cry poor about potential loss of revenue. Haven't the football codes recently had a windfall of extra funds from renewed television rights? Let's hope some of those funds will find their way to resourcing sport at community level rather than add to the already grossly inflated pay packets of football executives. If financial stringency is an issue that's where I'd look first rather than securing income sources from the vulnerable.
Sport can flourish in our communities without being funded through the misery of addicts and their families.
These reforms are not a tax, but an opportunity for problem gamblers to set limits for themselves before getting carried away by their addiction. They only require gamblers to set limits for themselves of how much they can afford to lose.
Through the work of UnitingCare agencies, we are daily dealing with the human consequences of problem gamblers losing the paycheque on high-loss machines.
Australia has the greatest number of high-loss pokies in the world and for our clubs to base their business model on this fact is wrong and needs to stop. We (well a lot of us anyway) love our football clubs here in Australia. It’s time for them to return the love and say no exploiting problem gamblers.
Please urge your local members of Parliament to support gambling reform. If you are a member of an AFL or NRL club give them a call and express your view.