Sport fights back after gambling
Drive to prevent players falling prey to addiction Bookmaker advertising ‘embedded’ in football
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’