Gambling and sport: taking a punt on lives

March 16, 2017

“Gaming ad ban on cards” was the headline on the front page of Melbourne’s The Age.


That certainly got my attention.


According to the newspaper, anti-gambling crusader politician Nick Xenophon is being wooed by the government to help it pass changes in media ownership laws. But Xenophon’s bargaining chip is his aim to reduce the gambling advertisements in live broadcasts of sporting events.


“The saturation of gambling advertising during sporting broadcasts is a major community issue that must be a part of negotiations with the government over media reform,” Xenophon told The Age.


Xenophon’s concerns are shared by three high-profile players in NRL and AFL.


Last month AFL Bulldogs captain Easton Wood tweeted that gambling was a sinister and dangerous activity, and he asked his followers to let him know if they agreed. Some 5,200 respondents gave him his answer. He was quickly supported by Geelong Cats AFL star Harry Taylor.


“I’ve got three kids at home and when my eldest can name a lot of the ads on TV that is a bit of a worry,’ he told


“It’s certainly something that we need to keep talking about and educating people about,” Taylor said.


Skipper Wood went as far as to declare that gambling advertising was out of control and that needed to change.


“Do we support the onslaught of gambling advertising you are now faced with when watching an AFL game?” he asked.


“The obvious issue here is the effect this advertising has on children every time they watch us pull on our boots,” Wood concluded.


Another top sportsman who has fallen victim to the scourge of gambling is former NRL Wests Tigers centre Tim Simona, who has been deregistered by the NRL.


As The Daily Telegraph recently reported, Simona confessed to pocketing charity money to feed his own gambling addiction and drug use.


But he has taken responsibility for his actions and is looking for redemption. “I am so sorry for the things that have happened. I feel embarrassed, ashamed, angry and upset, but can’t blame anyone but myself, which I need to live with,” he posted on Facebook.


“Hopefully over time people can forgive me and be supportive as I work on making changes in my life for the better,” he wrote.


As Christians’ we can assure Tim Simona that redemption is indeed possible. And the message for the corporates loving the revenue that the gambling advertisements lead to?


They might want to check out Matthew chapter 21, verse 12 in the Bible. “Jesus went into the temple and chased out everyone who was selling or buying. He turned over the tables of the moneychangers.”


Enough said?


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