Sport fights back af­ter gam­bling

Drive to pre­vent play­ers fall­ing prey to ad­dic­tion Book­maker ad­ver­tis­ing ‘em­bed­ded’ in foot­ball

The Daily Telegraph - Sport - - Sport - Ben Rumsby SPORTS NEWS COR­RE­SPON­DENT

Prob­lem gam­bling in foot­ball and other sports has reached “cri­sis” point and book­mak­ers must do more to pre­vent it, ex­perts will warn to­day at the launch of a ma­jor drive to boost aware­ness of its lifethreat­en­ing con­se­quences.

With the surge in re­fer­rals for treat­ment of sports­peo­ple with an out-of-con­trol bet­ting habit show­ing no sign of abat­ing, the Pro­fes­sional Play­ers Fed­er­a­tion and Gam­bleaware have come to­gether to cre­ate a self-help tool aimed specif­i­cally at the in­dus­try’s big­gest per­form­ers.

The PPF, which rep­re­sents elite foot­ballers, rugby play­ers, crick­eters and other top sports­men and women – will also urge “re­spon­si­ble book­mak­ers” to en­sure spon­sor­ship agree­ments with a sport in­clude pro­vi­sion for manda­tory ed­u­ca­tion for par­tic­i­pants about the risks of prob­lem gam­bling.

The wake-up call comes three years af­ter the PPF pub­lished alarm­ing re­search which found pro­fes­sional sports­peo­ple were three times more likely than the gen­eral pub­lic to de­velop the crip­pling com­pul­sion.

It also comes seven months since The Daily Tele­graph launched its “Sports Men­tal Health Cri­sis” cam­paign, af­ter Prince Harry sparked a na­tional de­bate by re­veal­ing in an ex­clu­sive in­ter­view he had sought coun­selling over the death of his mother.

The Sport­ing Chance Clinic, famed for treat­ing sports­peo­ple with al­co­hol or drug-re­lated con­di­tions, has in re­cent years seen the vast ma­jor­ity of those seek­ing help do so for prob­lem gam­bling, which, it is claimed, has the high­est sui­cide rate of any ad­dic­tion.

A new web­site, www.ppf.org.uk/ pg, will be of­fi­cially un­veiled to­day dur­ing Gam­bleaware’s fifth an­nual Harm-min­imi­sa­tion Con­fer­ence at The King’s Fund in Lon­don.

The site in­cludes films fea­tur­ing pow­er­ful tes­ti­monies from for­mer Premier League play­ers Clarke Carlisle and John Hart­son, and for­mer pro­fes­sional Scott Davies, each of whom has bat­tled the ad­dic­tion and who open up about its dev­as­tat­ing ef­fects.

Marc Etches, the Gam­bleaware chief ex­ec­u­tive, said: “The re­la­tion­ship be­tween sport and gam­bling is at a cri­sis. Gam­bling-re­lated ad­ver­tis­ing and pro­mo­tion is em­bed­ded in pro­fes­sional sport gen­er­ally, and foot­ball in par­tic­u­lar.

“We’re de­lighted to fund this im­por­tant ini­tia­tive, which has en­abled the PPF to take a proac­tive stance, help­ing to ed­u­cate pro­fes­sional play­ers about the risks and en­cour­ag­ing those who may al­ready be strug­gling with a gam­bling prob­lem to talk about it and seek help.

“This isn’t a job for the PPF alone, and we’re keen to see more clubs think more deeply about the im­pact of gam­bling-re­lated harm on their play­ers and fans alike.”

The chair­man of the PPF, West Bromwich Al­bion icon Bren­don Bat­son, added: “Many player as­so­ci­a­tions are al­ready do­ing ex­cel­lent gam­bling ed­u­ca­tion for their play­ers but, as the gam­bling en­vi­ron­ment evolves, we are look­ing at new ways of en­gag­ing with the play­ers.

“Thanks to Gam­bleaware, we have cre­ated a world lead­ing re­source for pro­fes­sional ath­letes

‘We want clubs to think more deeply about gam­blin­gre­lated harm on play­ers and fans’

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