Of 90 matches, punters won just 17

Australia: AFL under fire for promoting high-failure rate bets amid calls for advertising ban

Reading time 2:13 min

The Australian Football League (AFL) is facing criticism for its promotion of bets with an 85% failure rate while taking a cut of the losses, which has drawn the ire of politicians and harm reduction advocates seeking a ban on such advertisements.

Sportsbet, the largest online sportsbook in Australia, has been actively encouraging viewers to engage in same-game multis during televised AFL coverage, the Guardian reported. These bets involve wagering on various outcomes, such as player possessions and goal scorers, all of which must succeed for a payout to occur. Former AFL star Nathan Brown hosts segments promoting these bets.

The AFL's official social media accounts have been sharing videos produced by Sportsbet, as part of their wagering partnership, further promoting these same-game multis to their substantial following on platforms like Twitter.

An analysis of Sportsbet's promotions over a span of 90 matches since June 23 has revealed that punters would have won on only 17 occasions, with the betting agency profiting on 73 games, the report said. This win-loss ratio was initially reported by the anonymous Twitter account "TrackMyBrown" and has been independently verified by Guardian Australia.

Despite the possibility of winning on 17 bets, it has been noted that the gains would not be sufficient to offset the overall losses incurred. Guardian Australia said it was unable to verify the total value of these losses.

These promotions have come under fire as an illustration of the proliferation of gambling advertisements associated with the sport. According to the Guardian report, the federal government is currently considering a recommendation from a parliamentary inquiry to ban such ads.

Earlier this year, the AFL confirmed that it received a share of gambling turnover on matches, in addition to official sponsorship deals with betting companies.

We have product fee arrangements with all the wagering operators where we get a percentage of their operations on the AFL,” the outgoing chief executive, Gillon McLachlan, told a parliamentary inquiry into online gambling harm, the report said.

“The cosy relationship between elite football competitions and betting companies is a major barrier to gambling reform. Most people would be horrified to find out that the AFL receives three separate revenue streams from gambling companies direct sponsorship, a value increase in broadcast rights, and a direct cut of all gambling losses,” independent MP Kate Chaney, who was a member of the parliamentary inquiry, was quoted as saying in the report. 

Another independent MP, Andrew Wilkie, a vocal critic of the AFL's reliance on gambling revenue, has called for an immediate ban on these advertisements.

Sportsbet encouraging gamblers to pay for same-game multi bets that are very likely to be unsuccessful is appalling corporate behavior and should be outlawed immediately. Equally outrageous is that the AFL promotes and profits from such terrible behavior, providing further proof that it’s just another big business more interested in money than the public interest,” he said.

While the AFL has not directly responded to criticism from MPs, a spokesperson for the league stated that the company always adheres to government regulations concerning advertising and products.

During the parliamentary inquiry, AFL CEO Gillon McLachlan acknowledged community concerns regarding gambling ads and emphasized the need for the league to strike a balance between protecting match integrity, maintaining affordable match tickets, and investing in grassroots sports development.

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