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Betting, bikies, problem punting, professional players

A provocative rumour was printed in the Herald Sun and it’s piqued the interest of footy fans and journalists alike:

Some of the brightest football mind, as well as a growing list of high profile administrators, say gambling is the biggest issue facing AFL players today.

Sport in Australia is inextricably linked with gambling. Betting agencies, buoyed by the rivers of gold flowing through their coffers, fund the major codes and buy the big, expensive ads on with the broadcasters and newspapers.

Professional athletes are not allowed to bet on their own sport but this rule is often breached, such is the ubiquity of gambling apps and the ease of establishing an account under a false name.

David ‘Ox’ Schwarz is a reformed gambling addict who saw millions go down the drain. These days he shares his cautionary tale and speaks with professional athletes, warning them of dangers awaiting them if their punting spirals out of control.

Gambling addictions are often a gateway to a myriad of personal problems which can ruin your life and even result in a lengthy prison sentence.

Former Carlton footballer Chris Yarran’s life has spiralled out of control after becoming addicted to methamphetamine, he was recently sentenced to 5 years in jail after a drug-fuelled crime spree. Yarran’s troubles started with a gambling addiction.

“We tried to [work with Chris Yarran], we couldn’t get him to the table in the end, 3 or 4 times we tried and Carlton tried but we couldn’t get in there, he was too inconsistent at the time, he obviously had a lot of other issues going on at the time,” Ox reveals on Macquarie Sports Radio.

“I spoke to his manager on multiple occasions, and they were trying to hide and put his money away from him, I know that [manager] Paul Connors did a mighty job in trying to protect him, help him, guide him, but if that person is not willing to do that, it’s always difficult.”

Looping back to The Whisper printed in the Herald Sun, Mark Robinson, the chief football writer with that newspaper, said there’s an open secret about a certain footballer owing a bookie a lot of money.

“It gets denied, but what do you do? As Ox said, we can only chase the story,” Robbo said.

“More importantly, this is such a cautionary tale for a player out there who is in trouble, and if you don’t get help it can lead to other issues such as what Chris Yarran experienced,”

The Ox is calling on the AFL to do more to address what many believe to be the biggest problem in the game.

“I just wish the AFL, the players, the players association – everybody can get involved – and just limit the amount of money these players are getting,

“Put it away like a Jockey’s fund, or an apprenticeship – they don’t need $600,000 to live off,” he said.

Click PLAY to hear more from David ‘Ox’ Schwarz and Mark Robinson: