Quit before you’re behind: Why more should be done to prevent gambling addictions in sport

Gambling has the highest suicide rate of any addiction.

Let that sink in.

More than smoking. More than alcohol. More than drugs.

People who get addicted to gambling can feel as if they have dug themselves a hole that is just too deep, off the back of placing a losing streak of high-stake bets.

It is an issue that we as a society tend not to discuss, perhaps due to it being an uncomfortable topic. With that being said though, great attention and campaigning regularly occurs in the media against those who sell cigarettes, alcohol and drugs. Yet it is my belief that betting companies somehow avoid this same level of scrutiny.

Granted, we have all seen the garish yellow ‘When the fun stops, stop’ adverts that are now a mainstay of all major betting marketing. However, a recent study conducted by the University of Warwick found that 506 participants experienced no statistical difference between how likely they were to bet and whether or not this warning message was displayed in an advert.

Therefore, unless you are a major fan of Ram Jam’s ‘Black Betty’, you are unlikely to gain anything from these anti-gambling campaigns.

Admittedly, better news is to be found within betting apps themselves. For example, Sky Bet enables users to set deposit limits and cool off periods, as well as having a profit and loss tool to alert users to how much up or down they are over a given period.

Nonetheless, I am a strong proponent of prevention is better than cure and these tools all seem geared to preventing people with gambling problems – which equates to almost 2% of young men – from developing full-on addictions.

Instead, I would encourage laws to be introduced that limit the advertising space of betting companies. As an avid sports fan, I regularly watch sports news shows and use apps and websites to update myself with what is going on in the sporting world. Yet, at regular intervals, I will have odds thrown in my face, encouraging me to bet on upcoming events.

By prohibiting betting companies from advertising on these everyday use platforms, only those actively seeking their odds will find them and consequently, fewer people will be introduced to gambling in the first place.

Far too many people lose their lives to gambling on sports every single year, yet more could be done to prevent this. More should be done.

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Luke Saward

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October 2021
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