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Stephenson's $36 bets can lead the AFL to give up millions

2 1 0
22.06.2019

Jaidyn Stephenson didn't only back himself to kick goals and his teammates to get the ball. He's also unwittingly backed the AFL into a corner.

The greatest impact of those foolish flutters might not be on Stephenson's season or Collingwood's premiership campaign. More consequential is the conversation that has been created about the AFL's relationship with gambling companies.

It is not an exaggeration to say that bets that totalled $36 could be the catalyst for costing the AFL millions. Or, rather, for the AFL denying themselves millions.

But this will only happen if Gillon McLachlan and the AFL commission seize the moment that Stephenson, in his feckless stupidity, has handed them and the anti-gambling lobby.

Some AFL officials, particularly commissioners, were keen to make a statement against the insidious danger of footballers betting on games when they were considering how many weeks Stephenson should get.

AFL chief executive Gillon McLachlan faces the media.Credit:AAP

But if they are genuine about wishing to "make a statement" against destructive wagering, they can start by banning the ubiquitous advertising by betting agencies at the grounds they control – in particular the MCG and their wholly owned Marvel Stadium. The latter venue can remove the ads and replace them with Spider-Man or the Hulk.

You wonder whether those pushing for Stephenson to be sent down the river actually asked the question of whether their organisation's lucrative partnership with sports betting undermined their moral........

© The Age