Punters Send Death Threats to Aussie Sporting Stars

Headlines in Australia this week focused on the evolution of a disturbing trend where gamblers losing bets send abusive and threatening messages to professional athletes. Players across Australia’s main sports have been speaking out and standing up for colleagues on the receiving end of the hatred, “we don’t go out there to lose peoples’ bets,” said NRL player Ryan Papenhuyzen.

Aussie rules football.

The majority of abuse in recent weeks has been directed towards Australian rules football players from abusive gamblers, some even sending death threats. ©Squirrel_photos/Pixabay

Australian sports betting represents an enormous portion of the gambling market yearly revenue each year across the nation. Latest accounting estimates suggest there are some $143bn in total wagers across sports betting, as online gambling in Australia surges. The substantial money being directed towards the industry is becoming a contentious issue for many, and the recent abuse of professional athletes by punters is fuelling the argument for increased restrictions on the industry.

The criticism of this behavior has been ferocious from a diverse range of sports professionals. It is now becoming increasingly clear to Australians that this is a problem that is not being given enough attention. The immaturity to message abuse directly at players is being highly condemned, players have families and a right to carry out their jobs without being abused.

On one side players have pleaded with fans who engage in this activity to seek help, and look at the detrimental impact of their actions. Others have not been so consolatory in their choice of words, telling fans that players couldn’t care one bit for the outcome of their bets or financial problems from gambling. They added that gamblers who are getting upset about losing $20 should not be gambling in the first place – wishes of players to receive injuries or worse are also counter-productive.

Players in the National Rugby League have been some of the most vocal on the subject. According to Ryan Papenhuyzen of the Melbourne Storm, after each game players regularly receive DMs over a variety of social media channels, often criticizing the performance and referencing a bet that has been lost. In some extreme cases, players are being insulted personally, with wishes of them to be seriously injured, and in the most serious instances, death threats are made against them.

Aussie Rules Player Receives Death Threats from Disgruntled Gamblers

In one of the most serious and concerning incidents in this saga is the case of Callan Ward, a professional Australian rules football player currently contracted by the Greater Western Sydney Giants. In a recent game against the Essendon Bombers, Callan Ward made a decisive free-kick at the end of the match leading to a 10 points extension to the GWS. This became a catalyst for a barrage of messages from gamblers sending death threats to the player.

Ward has understandably been left disappointed by the whole ordeal, and the passionate hatred people have shown towards him. Ward has said that he is trying to rise above the cowardly threats being made and stressed the importance of bringing this behavior to an end. Many professional athletes may not be able to handle the pressure as comfortably as Ward has done, and the athlete expressed his concern for other younger players who go through the same problem.

In response to the flow of hatred and negative comments towards the GSW player, the Essendon Bomber showed their support and stood in solidarity against the abuse of professional athletes. The club also stated that they are conducting their own investigation into the matter, and if an associate or member of their club is found to be involved, appropriate action will be swiftly taken.

The toxic behavior witnessed against professional sportspeople across Australia over social-media is certainly an issue that many are just waking up to. With a broad connection to gambling, there are significant calls being made to tighten restrictions on the industry as a precaution. On the one hand, the voices of a few idiots shouldn’t ruin the enjoyment of betting for everyone, but as the social impact of sports gambling is increasingly scrutinized, instances such as these serve as valuable ammunition to advocates of a tougher stance towards the betting industry.

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