St Kilda FC may not be the only AFL club to count a sports betting company amongst its sponsors (almost half of the teams in the AFL have sports betting sponsorships) but they are certainly the best known for it. Centrebet’s major sponsor deal with the Saints gives the online betting agency jumper-naming rights and a heck of a lot of advertising time.
It also means that St Kilda needs to be very careful. Quite apart from any ethical considerations, the AFL is extremely image-conscious and would, quite rightly, come down hard on any team that was seen to be marketing gambling to minors.
And that’s the crux of it, really. St Kilda, like all football clubs, has a lot of young members and supporters. Care needs to be taken that the club does not allow their deal with Centrebet to end up with them promoting sports betting to the kids that are just following their heroes.
On the face of it, they would appear to be doing the right thing. The Centrebet logo is conspicuously absent from the kids’ range of St Kilda jumpers and merchandise, although my understanding is that the policy of keeping gambling logos off kids’ jumpers belongs to the AFL rather than individual clubs. Mind you, there is a recommendation with parliament to ban gambling logos on sporting jumpers completely, so soon this could be out of the AFL’s hands.
But in other areas, St Kilda has definitely dropped the ball.
Consider the official St Kilda footy tipping competition. It’s open to all ages, although minors need a parent’s or guardian’s permission to enter. But what on earth possessed them to market it as the “2012 CENTREBET Saints Tipping Competition”?
Yes, the all-ages St Kilda footy tipping competition is sponsored by Centrebet. The betting company gets no fewer than nine mentions on the competition’s website home page, and the logo is highly prominent. Second prize is a Centrebet Spring Racing Carnival package, although all prizes (including this one) won by minors go to their parents/guardians. And tipsters are encouraged to use their mobile phones to enter their tips; the accompanying image is a mobile phone with “CENTREBET FOOTY TIPPING” displayed on the screen.
It’s not much of a stretch to image that mobile Centrebet tipping could lead to mobile Centrebet gambling…
Especially when even the registration page throws up ads like this:
And consider the official Saints 2012 Season Guide. This interactive online publication is a pretty slick piece of work, with fixture details, player profiles and lots more.
There are also ads. Sponsors’ ads. And page four is a full-page ad for Centrebet, encouraging readers to OPEN AN ACCOUNT TODAY.
Why is this a problem? Because St Kilda emailed the interactive document to all of their members, regardless of how old they are. One member I am aware of who was directly emailed the link to this Guide is just seven years old.
These kinds of situations could be avoided. It would have cost little to produce a “junior” version of the Guide, for example, that didn’t have the Centrebet ad. The club certainly knows which of its members are minors.
But what this highlights is a lack of care on the part of the club. If St Kilda is going to take Centrebet’s money and put their logo on the front and back of their jumpers, they have a duty of care to ensure that they’re not selling gambling to kids.
So far, they’ve failed.