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AFL players to debate potential pay cut to reduce gambling advertising

“It will probably be easier when we have the PA come and talk specifically to the clubs so we can get an idea of what our particular group is thinking and we can go from there,” Wood said.

“It’s on the agenda. It’s going to be spoken about. We spoke at the PA that it’s an important topic to bring up and see where players land on it. That’s the thing. We need to see where the playing group lands on it and go from there.”

An AFLPA spokesman confirmed the issue would be addressed soon, as part of seeking feedback about “priorities” for the next round of collective bargaining agreement negotiations.

The AFL did not wish to comment. The league has a commercial agreement with bookmaker Bet Easy, which reportedly is worth about $10 million.

Gambling advertising has become almost intrinsically linked to all sports and is seen as a major source of revenue for sports and media outlets, including Nine Entertainment Co, the owner of this masthead.


Wood has previously said “gambling advertising is out of control” but understands the issue is complex and there would be ramifications.

“It’s something we need to bring up. It’s a really difficult but important issue. I know I went out publicly last year and said I would be happy for that to happen [a pay cut]. I am not sure how the rest of the playing group would feel,” he said.

“It’s a complex one but it’s an important one. It’s going to be one of these things that when it is legislated against in however long, hopefully soon, it’s going to be one of those things like smoking and alcohol, you look back and, say: ‘Why did we ever let that happen?'”

Wood’s comments last year were endorsed by Bulldogs president Peter Gordon, who said the league could ease its reliance on gambling revenue in a similar way to how tobacco advertising was removed decades ago.

Player payments are all but underpinned by the broadcast rights deal and could be impacted by the loss of gambling advertising. Come the final year of the CBA, which also falls in 2022, it’s expected the average player wage will be $389,000, with a salary cap of $13.54 million.

Broadcasters are under increasing pressure to generate revenue from record-breaking sports rights deals but the AFL will hope there is competitive tension in the next round of negotiations from digital behemoths such as Facebook and Google and streaming outlets.

The AFL is set to reduce the half-time break this season by five minutes to retain viewer interest, coming at a time Foxtel has made cost cuts to sports outside the major codes, including rugby union.

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