CEO of Southern Football Netball League, David Cannizzo, photo: Paul Jeffers
With gambling advertising going through the roof, and social media and apps making sports betting more attractive and accessible, many young people today consider gambling a normal part of enjoying the game.
This alarming development is not lost on David Cannizzo, chief executive of the Southern Football Netball League.
'I personally believe there's an unhealthy focus on gambling in sport,' he says. 'It has increased significantly in the last few years.'
The foundation's Gambling's not a Game sporting clubs program is working with the Southern Football Netball League and many other local and elite Victorian sporting clubs to separate the game from gambling.
The program offers clubs benefits including support in creating a club culture that fosters responsible gambling and a local connection with Gambler's Help services to achieve this. We also provide education sessions and promote the clubs as community leaders in responsible gambling practices.
The Responsible Gambling Charter
Around 150 clubs are currently participating in Gambling's not a Game, and all have signed the Responsible Gambling Charter.
This signifies their commitment to creating a healthy club environment and sharing responsibility for raising awareness within the club community about the potential risks of gambling.
A particular focus of the program is to work with clubs to minimise the exposure of young people under 18 to gambling activities and advertising within the club environment.
'Signing the charter is our pledge to remain free of the advertising that links gambling and sport, so our players and members can focus on their love of the game,' says David Cannizzo.
'I personally believe there's an unhealthy focus on gambling in sport.'
The growing number of people seeking help for sports betting problems is disproportionately young and male. Given young men are prime targets for betting companies looking to embed gambling in sport, this isn't surprising.
Foundation chief executive Serge Sardo says the clubs' commitment to working with the foundation to counter the growing culture of sports betting is a positive step towards minimising harm.
'These clubs are helping us put the game before the odds and the wellbeing of players, members and fans first,' he says.
More clubs get with the program
Of the Southern Football Netball League's 31 clubs, 18 have signed up to the charter, and David Cannizzo says more are looking to sign up in the coming months.
'Through education and support, we hope to bring the focus back to why we're engaged in the first place: for the enjoyment of the game,' he says.
David's understanding of the important role clubs can play in encouraging healthy lifestyles is shared by the chief executives of a number of elite Victorian sporting clubs.
On Monday 12 October, the first day of Responsible Gambling Awareness Week 2015, AFL clubs Essendon, St Kilda and Western Bulldogs signed the Responsible Gambling Charter. AFL clubs Collingwood, Hawthorn and North Melbourne, and A-league soccer club Melbourne Victory, all renewed their commitment to the charter. This highlights the importance of the program for sporting codes at all level across Victoria. Read more about the elite clubs signing the charter.
'These clubs are helping us put the game before the odds and the wellbeing of players, members and fans first.'
In regional Victoria, the Wodonga Raiders Football Club, member of Gambling's not a Game since 2015, is hosting a community event on 14 October, from 4.30 pm to 7.30 pm. Titled 'Take control – kick start to a better life', the event will include sporting activities, socialising and responsible gambling education. For more information about the event, visit the Responsible Gambling Awareness Week 2015 website.
Also playing a big part in Responsible Gambling Awareness Week, former Hawthorn player Brent Guerra is sharing his experiences with problem gambling to help increase awareness among young people of the importance of gambling responsibly.
Read Brent's story and find out where he will be speaking during Responsible Gambling Awareness Week.