'Dreadful scourge': Caroline Wilson blasts AFL boss over $10 million deal

Sam Goodwin
Sports Editor
Caroline Wilson blasted Gillon McLachlan and the AFL. Image: Getty/Nine

Caroline Wilson has taken aim at AFL boss Gillon McLachlan for renewing the league’s advertising deal with BetEasy.

The AFL’s deal with the online gambling company is reportedly worth about $10 million and runs until the end of 2025.

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Wilson has been a strong advocate for eradicating gambling ads from games and took aim at McLachlan on Footy Classified on Monday night.

“Gambling is the AFL's biggest drug problem by far,” she said.

“Young men come into the game and develop betting habits, just as young children go to the MCG and Marvel and watch saturation gambling advertising all around their beloved stadiums.

“I'm so disappointed that Gillon McLachlan extended the AFL's deal with BetEasy. I'm even more disappointed that Richard Goyder's commission, despite their reservations, ratified it.

“Don't talk to me about the desperate need for millions of dollars of revenue, now is the time for leadership, true social reform, and a clean slate.

“Hopefully those clubs with dormant gaming machine revenue are realising that.

“If now is truly the time to transform the game then please remove this dreadful social scourge from our game, from our stadiums and from the AFL's website.”

Allen Christensen’s fear for gambling addicts in lockdown

Wilson pointed to comments from former Brisbane Lions player Allen Christensen over the weekend, who expressed fears for gambling addicts while in lockdown.

Last year Christensen revealed he’d lost “hundreds of thousands of dollars” through gambling, leading to his trade from Geelong to Brisbane.

The former gambling addict said he feels like betting ads have increased since everyone was forced to spend more time at home.

“I think it’s tough for anyone who has been through something like this and then now going through what we are going through as a society at the moment,” he told the Real Drug Talk podcast.

“The ads I feel have really ramped up – I understand they have to make a living, I understand it’s a job for a lot of people and I understand people can have a bet and be OK.

Allen Christensen in action for Brisbane Lions in 2019. (Photo by Michael Willson/AFL Photos via Getty Images)

“You’ve got to be able to go ‘all right I can’t put myself in a vulnerable position and that’s where you’ll find people will go ‘all right do I really want to stay clean, do I really want to do this’ or do they say ‘all right I’m sitting at home saving a lot of money because I’m not going out at the weekend – ah f*** it I’m going for it.’ That’s the mindset that’s really dangerous at the moment.”

Christensen won a premiership with the Cats in 2011, before letting his gambling spiral out of control in the years to follow.

He said he told the Lions “absolutely everything” about his problems before they took him on board.

“Everywhere I walked in Geelong … that’s the pub I turned $30 into $5000 or that’s the pub we turned $1000 into $5, everywhere I walked,” he said in 2019.

“I don’t know if I could have gone cold turkey straight away if I didn’t leave Geelong.

“I’m forever grateful to Brisbane for taking a chance on me at the time, there was a lot of s*** being spoken about me.”