The Australian Football League (AFL) has admitted it was a mistake to remove an anti-gambling campaign from its website.
The AFL pulled the ‘Love The Game Not The Odds’ ad from its website and social media channels just one week into the four-week campaign, because it conflicted with the body’s Sportsbet sponsorship.
Funded by the Victorian Responsible Gambling Foundation (VRGF), the ad features players from Victorian AFL clubs standing shoulder to shoulder to promote responsible gambling. It is currently running on all the major TV and radio networks in the state.
The AFL signed off on the campaign, but did not directly inform the VRGF of its decision to stop it. It has, however, admitted it was a mistake to remove the ad from its website.
“The AFL has a long-standing relationship with the VRGF,” an AFL spokesperson said. “A recent digital campaign was booked for the AFL website and it was mistakenly removed.
“The AFL looks forward to continuing to work with the VRGF and continue to promote their important responsible gambling message through AFL channels.”
International sports website ESPN also pulled the campaign, much to the disappointment of the VRGF.
“A large majority of Victorian AFL fans are concerned that young people see an excessive volume of sports gambling ads,” said VRGF Chief Executive Shane Lucas. “This is not lost on the state’s 10 AFL clubs, which are united in saying no to sports betting sponsorship.
“It was disappointing that the AFL and ESPN removed the Love The Game Not The Odds campaign from their channels but we accept the AFL’s explanation that it was a mistake and acknowledge the commitment to reinstate our campaign.”