WESTERN Bulldogs captain and Camperdown export Easton Wood said increasing exposure to sports betting in the game is gambling too much with a young generation's future.
Wood renewed his call for a sports betting-free environment as the Bulldogs held a community camp in the south-west on Monday and Tuesday, adding he was concerned how children's AFL talk was increasingly involving odds.
"The issue I see is kids are exposed to betting took much in football. When kids refer to the game at schools now they're asking 'who's the favourite' rather than 'who are you cheering for'," Wood said. "We should enjoy the game just for the game."
Wood first spoke out against gambling in sport two years ago after a mandatory AFL education session on responsible gambling in which all players and staff were warned about potential dangers, how life could quickly unravel. Yet, AFL and AFLW broadcasting was filled with advertisements for betting agencies.
As a high-profile footballer, and conscious he was a direct beneficiary of such funds, Wood felt compelled to speak out. But he said sports betting advertising was still saturating the game, from extra accessibility via smart phones and live odds to live crosses with AFL personalities updating odds.
"Every time you flick on the telly it seems like a competing landscape for betting agencies. Ads seem to always shout at you," Wood said. "When you're bombarded by this stuff you don't always question it. It's normalising gambling in sport."
Victorian Responsible Gambling Foundation has renewed partnerships with all 10 Victorian AFL clubs in an ongoing campaign to love the game, not the odds.
The foundation's interim chief Janet Dore said Wood was leading by example and key to reaching a generation of young people who had never known a time when betting was not associated with AFL.
Ms Dore said putting the spotlight on gambling was important because excessive sports betting promotion could normalise gambling and when something felt normal, it no longer seemed risky.
Almost three in four Victorians think adolescents have too much exposure to gambling advertising, a foundation survey found last year.
Wood said his position as a player gave him a privileged opportunity to speak up, despite the AFL's sponsorship ties. He said the AFL takes social causes seriously and could make a positive influence on the community, like the league's backing of the YES campaign on marriage equality.
"(Gambling) is a really complex one," Wood said. "The more we talk about it, the more we can do something about stuff that's not good for our health on a national level going forward."
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