New South Wales basketball teams the Sydney Kings and Sydney Uni Flames have joined the Australian state government’s ‘Reclaim the Game’ initiative to reject all sports betting sponsorship and advertising.
Developed by the New South Wales Office of Responsible Gambling, the Reclaim the Game partnership program aims to counter the “normalisation” of sports betting and advertising in sport and raise awareness of gambling harms.
In joining the scheme, the Sydney Kings, which play in the National Basketball League, and women’s team the Sydney Uni Flames become the first two basketball clubs in Australia to opt out of sports betting sponsorship.
The scheme is also backed by cricket clubs the Sydney Sixers and Sydney Thunder, as well as Australian Rules Football team the Sydney Swans and A-League football clubs Western Sydney Wanderers and Macarthur FC.
“It speaks to our commitment to social and community responsibility,” said Paul Smith, the chairman and owner of both the Sydney Kings and Sydney Uni Flames. “Our own players have been victim to abuse on social media because betting got out of hand.
“By working with GambleAware, we are encouraging our fans and the community to stay within their means and to not let betting take away from what sport should be about.”
Director of the Office of Responsible Gambling, Natalie Wright, added: “We’re seeing sports betting advertising in almost every aspect of sport which sends a message that betting is part and parcel of enjoying sport.”
“Gambling advertising’s whole purpose is to convince you to place a bet. Reclaim the Game is about creating a space for fans to enjoy sport without betting advertising and reducing their exposure to advertising and promotions which can lead to risky gambling.”
The Office of Responsible Gambling noted that it is in talks with other clubs and expects to announce new Reclaim the Game partners in 2022.
The addition of the Sydney Kings and Sydney Uni Flames to the scheme comes after this week it was announced that the South Australian government had linked up with A-League club Adelaide United on a campaign to reinforce the positive aspects of sport outside of gambling.
Under the new three-year partnership, the government will commit a total of AUS$328,000 (£176,477/€207,455/US$235,155) in funding for advertising across TV, radio, online, social media and outdoor to promote the ‘Here For The Game’ campaign.
These adverts will focus on the idea that fans can enjoy sport without gambling and feature messages such as ‘Here for the memories, not for the early bet pay-outs’ and ‘Here for the fans, not odds-on favourites’.