Is the sport of football too close to gambling? Betting companies advertise on billboards and players’ t-shirts. It isn’t just the spectators who are at risk of developing a gambling addiction it’s the players too. According to midfielder Joey Barton half the premier league footballers are floating the rules by betting on football matches. The rules state that professional footballers are not allowed to place bets on matches, even matches that they aren’t involved in. ‘You’d have half the League out’ if the rules were were widely enforced, Joey says. Joey Barton was banned because he fell foul of the rules.
Adrian Bevington, former FA executive says that these figures are high anecdotally and that it’s important the Football Association is aware of the vulnerability of players to gambling which is why the rules are in place. ‘There’s been a huge increase in gambling across the globe in recent years,’ Adrian says. ‘You have to protect the vulnerability of players, particularly the younger ones but also protect the integrity of the game from match fixing and keep it a clean sport.’ He supports the rule.
Davis Conn sport journalist says that while he supports the rules they are a side issue from the explosion of gambling and betting companies wrapping themselves into football and making football and football support a gambling experience. Since the relaxation of the law in 2005 there has been an explosion in gambling and the companies are taking between £13 and £14 billion from British people. The fact that players are also gambling is worrying. They are gambling to this extent despite the tough rules and that he says is a very worrying indication. Even with the rules and the risk of being banned the players still risk getting kicked out. And they aren’t actually the most vulnerable people and so what does this say about the addiction as a whole? The most vulnerable people, according to research are those with mental health issues, depression, drug issues and alcohol issues. The adverts are all over football and so many sports. These groups of people are very vulnerable. The adverts are dangerous.
Will things ever change? There is a moral debate here, a debate that this country had back in the 1970s and 1980s when cigarette advertising was banned. The government invested millions in ant-smoking campaigns and various campaigns concerning the dangers of alcohol addiction and drink driving campaigns. But I don’t see the same approach to the tackling of gambling addiction. Gambling addiction can lead to relationship break down, family breakdown, fraud, theft and contribute to the debt crisis this country is facing. Gambling brings in vast sums of money and that finds its way to the government in taxation. So there’s no incentive for the government to do anything about it. Unlike smoking and excessive drinking it doesn’t lead to cancer and heart attacks which is why, I believe the government don’t take it as seriously. But the fact is it ruins lives and leads to economic problems for the rest of us through bankruptcy and business failure. It’s time that the government started to take a tough line and a start would be to ban gambling companies from advertising at sporting events.
Do you have a gambling addiction? Visit Barry’s website at http://www.thegword.co.uk