Sportsbet is entitled to use player images in small group shots and also in footage to promote the company’s betting services on the competition, but players can now opt out of such imagery for ethical, reputational or commercial reasons.
Melbourne Football Club full-forward and goalkicker Ben Brown, one of the most prominent figures to refuse the image usage, opted out for ethical reasons, with another high-profile player – who wishes to remain anonymous – also reportedly opting out for ethical reasons.
It is believed that other players have opted out due to having gambling problems in the past, while a number of senior players had little awareness that Sportsbet actually has the right to use their image if they did not specify opposition to it being used in the betting promotions.
Under AFL rules, players cannot be involved in encouraging betting on AFL matches, but their image can be exclusively used by Sportsbet, which has a presence on the league’s website and app.
Last year, nearly 30 players reportedly chose to opt out of the wagering promotion for the AFL’s wagering partner, which represents fewer than 4% of players. The 800-plus AFL players receive 28% of the Sportsbet deal, which is reportedly worth AU$12m (US$8m) per year.
In an email to AFL-accredited player agents last month, the AFL Players’ Association said that players can opt out if they have “genuine personal, moral or ethical objection to the use of their image” or if they felt it was “detrimental to the player’s reputation or inconsistent with a demonstrable brand strategy implemented on behalf of the player.”