Tue, Mar 26, 2:23pm by Staff Writer
The Geelong Cats’ home stadium will be the first regular AFL venue in Victoria to have a gambling advertising blackout on its LED signage and scoreboard.
GMHBA Stadium will be a gambling-free stadium in 2019 and beyond according to a report published in The Age.
The Cats had previously committed to rid GMHBA Stadium of gambling advertising by the 2020 season, but achieved their goal a year early.
The club is not set to suffer financially from the move and will meet its commitment to be debt-free for the first time in 50 years by 2021, even with its exit from poker machines to be completed soon.
Geelong sells 20 per cent of its LED advertising space to TechFront, which on-sells the space to advertisers.
The club estimates that one third of that 20 per cent has been sold to betting companies in recent seasons.
In a re-negotiation of the contract the external company has agreed not to sell advertising space to gambling advertisers.
None of the 80 per cent of remaining space that Geelong sells itself goes to betting companies.
Mars Stadium in Ballarat also has no gambling advertising on its fixed-ad boards, but only hosts two Western Bulldogs home games each season.
Geelong chief executive Brian Cook said the decision was about making sure all the club’s activities aligned with its values and principles.
“It’s extremely important for our club to be gambling and gaming free,” Mr Cook told The Age.
“Simply from a visual perspective it is a good view. It’s an agreed variation of the contract. The only gambling activity we will have at our club including match day and non-match day will be at Wyndham (pokies).
— Responsible Gambling (@vicrgf) March 20, 2019
Geelong’s decision comes shortly after the Brisbane Lions became the first AFL side since 2013 to feature a corporate betting logo on its jersey.
Online bookmaker Neds has joined the Lions as a co-major sponsor after tech start-up SOOW allegedly failed to make payments pursuant to the partnership announced late last year, The Age reports.
The Lions have a chequered history with sponsors, with former major partner Camperdown Dairy International collapsing in 2017m only months after apparel provider BLK folded.
The debt-ridden Lions are one of a number of clubs who remain heavily reliant on the AFL for funding, receiving $23.6 million from the league in 2018.
The Federal Government recently announced that it would fund the Lions’ long-awaited training and administration in Springfield, 33km from the Brisbane CBD at a cost of $15 million.
Betting ads are shown on LED signs at the MCG and Marvel Stadium.
Mr Cook said Geelong would finalise the sale of its remaining pokies at The Brook on Sneydes in Point Cook within a year.
Its pokies exit began in 2015 and had been lengthy due to difficulty in replacing the revenue.
“We have been in the market of selling [The Brook’s pokies and business] for over a year and we do have some interested people, we have been going through due diligence for a long time,” Mr Cook said.
Since 2013-14, the Cats had slashed their gaming revenue by about $3.5 million, with $1 million more to be replaced.
Mr Cook said Geelong has seen a boost in come from its function rooms at GMHBA Stadium, as well as premium seating and match-day corporate packages, increased stadium capacity, sponsorships, expanded merchandise operations and philanthropic donations from benefactors.
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