Recent news reports suggest that many Australian Football League players are struggling with problematic gambling habits. On May 6, 2015, the Australian Football League Players’ Association released a statement that denied those controversial news reports, but did admit that some football players have issues with gambling.
These contentious news reports were built around a series of statements made by David Schwarz, a former star player for Melbourne. Schwarz claimed that there is a gambling epidemic in the AFL. Paul Marsh, the chief executive of the AFLPA, argues that Schwarz’s statements were “blown out of proportion.”
Like any other sector of society, Marsh believes that there are certain individuals in the AFL who battle with problem gambling. The AFL’s chief executive reports that approximately 30 players talk to him about compulsive gambling every year. Most of these players are gambling on horse racing events in America and the United Kingdom.
The Full Extent of Gambling in the AFL
Besides talking directly with players, Paul Marsh also consults with AFL team managers about gambling culture within the league. Marsh says that there are some players in the league who “are on the verge of losing everything.” Marsh says that some players are so addicted to sports gambling that they might never financially recover.
For Marsh, the saddest part of this situation is that these gambling addicts have spent many years playing in the AFL and will retire with nothing in their bank account. This is alarming when you consider that more than 75 AFL athletes took home more than $500,000 in 2014 alone.