The AFL informed Australian media outlets that it’s banning some employees from participating in any betting activity on the league. Umpires and anyone in the AFL’s football department must refrain from betting. This includes participating in survivor pools, known locally as tipping competitions, and virtually anything else.
This change aims to increase integrity and public perception, according to the company. AFL boss Gillon McLachlan told a local radio station that the new policy is a “reset” on how the league views betting. The revamped rules extend the ban prohibiting employees from wagering on league games.
Whether it’s too heavy-handed or not, the integrity of our game is critical, and we continue to make decisions in that lens,” McLachlan added.
McLachlan is stepping down next month and may not entirely support the change. He told the radio station that betting pools are relatively harmless but that the decision was out of his hands.
It’s now prohibited for these AFL employees to suggest to a co-worker, “I’ll bet you a pint Dustin Martin scores.” They won’t be able to participate in AFL fantasy games, either.
Office and neighbourhood betting pools are common features worldwide and usually fly under the radar. Typically, participants pay a certain amount into the pot and then make their picks each week of the season, whether it be on the NFL, AFL, or NBA. At the end of the season, whoever has the correct choices takes the pot.
It’s unclear what the AFL plans to do with its tipping contest. It has an entire website, Tipping.afl.com.au, dedicated to pools. It allows users with an AFL ID to set up their own competitions and runs an official competition with a prize pool of up to AU$40,000 (US$26,772).
Last November, a betting scandal rocked the AFL and its Brownlow Medal after police arrested four people, including an AFL ump, for distributing voting data to potential bettors. They could face up to 10 years in prison for their actions.
That fueled an already unstable sentiment toward gambling in general. There has been an ongoing crackdown in the industry as gambling opponents try to force the activity out of the country. Tighter regulations are coming to the casino segment. The sports betting segment faces many changes, including less advertising and sponsorships.
Jeff Kennett, former president of the AFL’s Hawthorn Football Club, applauded the league’s new policy. He called it an “excellent move” but added that the AFL might be out of bounds simultaneously.
In the meantime, AFL employees will have to find new ways to get free pints at the pub.