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AFL & NRL move to retain problem gambling revenues

I don’t have a lot of time for Australia’s moronic obsession with football. I am a badge-carrying member of the Anti Football League who does watch a couple of games each year (with pleasure) but I think the preoccupation with these games suggests something fundamentally rotten with our culture.

I guess its a harmless way of letting off a bit of steam and provides an interest for those whose lives are fairly devoid of interest. ‘Who do you follow in the footie?’- is one way of starting a conversation!

But the AFL and NRL have a more sinister commercial side that revolves around exploiting those among their membership who are addicted to gambling. These groups have formed an alliance to help defeat the government’s eminently reasonable poker machine reforms. These are not the actions of benevolent community organisations supplying a harmless social sophorific. They are the actions of an anti-social lobby group who should be identified by their memberships and by Australians generally for what they are. About 40% of income from the pokies is associated with problem gambling and with the social miseries this form imposes on the community. The claim that the pre-commitment reforms won’t work is inconsistent with the claim that the clubs will lose vast amounts of revenue from this move.

It is a deceit to describe the policy move as a ‘footie tax’. that it ‘aint.

The clubs no matter how they put it have embarked on a course of action that protects this source of income and hence which sustain the miseries this creates. Moreover, the problems created are not inflicted on the community as a whole but specifically on the membership of these clubs.

Are not these sorts of clubs supposed to be organisations that serve the interests of their members? How does opposing reforms designed to reduce problem gambling among club members do this?

7 comments to AFL & NRL move to retain problem gambling revenues

  • Michael

    Just as we have the Greens pressuring the government to have a carbon price we have an independent forcing action on poker machines. I think it is safe to say that good government is only possible if neither major party can govern in it’s own right. The too major parties are spineless against well organised and funded special interest groups – in fact they are almost indistinguishable. Maybe this is the inevitable result of a two party system.

  • rog

    I have no sympathy for clubs who are dependent on gambling for their revenue – let them compete on providing services.

    The proposal is to somehow limit problem gamblers from self harm – much as clubs are supposed to limitvproblem drinkers. There has been no call to abolish gambling, just restrict some of the activities.

  • KB Keynes

    The Productivity commission’s report was damning.

    Yes they are very inconsistent, a bit like climate change.

    Interesting to see Gary Banks say Clubs Australia are giving the most egregious examples of research when they talk.

  • davidp

    I’m an AFL club member and was disappointed with the president’s public response to this and am generally unhappy about the AFL’s links to gambling. To be fair, the Brownlow telecast was much better this year than last year. Last year there were almost continual references to odds and betting. There were much less this year (at least from midway through when I started watching it) – the only one I remember was an advert that was clearly among the ads.

    I also heard Andrew Demetriou speak last night on PM and he distanced himself from the NRL and Clubs Australia.

    I can see why the focus on AFL can be offputting (and was probably spared the worst of it by being at a school where school sport was a really minor activity). But, people can become AFL supporters in the same way most people choose their religious affiliation i.e. from being immersed in it from birth (as was, being a third generation supporter) so it is a bit rough to describe it as only providing something for those whose lives are devoid of interest… I have heard people describe themselves as “culturally” Catholic or Jewish without actually fully believing in the religion and the same would hold for at least a few AFL supporters…

  • hc

    David you can follow and enjoy the footie without being obsessed with it. Many Melbournians seem to think of little else. It dominates conversation, the evening news and for many of us has become simply boring. The AFL cannot be reasonably be compared to a religious belief since it is only a game. Moreover quite an enjoyable game to watch on occasion as I do.

    But even as sport goes a major limitation is that for the vast bulk of people it is a passive activity where the main interest is cheering the firm you back and criticising those you do not back. I use the term firm not team because that is most accurate.

    The sinister part of the widespread obsession is that the footie fanaticism has been highjacked by those with the most base commercial motives.

  • davidp

    Agree that focussing on nothing but football is boring (indeed focussing on any one thing usually is…). The point about religious belief though was not to say that football is the same as religious belief in its spiritual sense but that there is a cultural component to both (if there wasn’t we could well see people choose different religious beliefs to their parents/family to a much greater extent). There are texts, parables, saints and sinners, rituals etc, which individuals are immersed in and they become part of their character in a similar way.

    Also don’t disagree with the issues about passive cheering – though it is no less passive than many other activities that many people engage in e.g. like watching (much of what is on) television.

    While I worry about the commercialisation (and am uncomfortable when it is obvious like with the gambling) it is too strong to say people are cheering firms – people don’t feel the same way about firms the way they feel about teams even if clubs are run like firms in certain ways these days. (and commercial motives play much more sinister roles in other areas of society than in football).

  • rdmac

    Harry, I have no truck with concerns about the money hungry actions of AFL and NRL clubs in areas such as gambling. The gaming industry is akin to a cancer that attaches itself to a host victim and then tries to suck it dry.

    I do have concerns with rubbish such as this “I guess its a harmless way of letting off a bit of steam and provides an interest for those whose lives are fairly devoid of interest.” Seeks to me that anyone who needs to declare themselves a badge-carrying member of the anti football league might be a bit like the ‘proud and out’ athiests, who run around taking about religion more than the religious types do?

    Footy, any sport, is a point of social contact and interaction. What is wrong with that? Is there a moral barometer someone in the world for all to see that rates intense football fan behaviour as a lesser way of living one’s life than someone with a strong devotion to any other pursuit? Exactly what is it about our culture that is rotten because of this devotion? Certainly history would show that less blood has been spilled over the centuries due to sport than due to religions devotion, or devotion to odd political beliefs.

    Of course a football club is a firm in an economic sense. One of the firm’s outputs is the team put on the field of play each weekend. There is a rich literature on that – you might enjoy reading some of it.

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