The ‘Gamblification’ of Soccer – #CanWeHaveOurBallBack

A recent study revealed what many of us already knew; there are some… “dire consequences” resulting from the continued intense sponsorship that football attracts and receives from gambling organisations.

It’s being suggested that some young men simply can’t watch a football game without placing multiple bets. The game of football has almost become ancillary to the gambling. There are also suggestions that gambling is ‘the ‘worst’ addiction’ out there, according to the research.

I’m not sure I can agree with the latter observation. Yes, I can agree that problematic gambling is an increasingly common problem however; I’ve never been comfortable with those who apply a hierarchy of perceived importance’ to one addiction, over another. Affixing labels of importance tends to detract from the impacts and struggles faced by the individual but I digress.

I’ve never been one to curtail anyone’s enjoyment., what they choose to do with their money is their choice however; I take issue with advertising that has a tendency to target susceptible people. The ones most vulnerable to the negative impacts of gambling.

The explosion in marketing and sponsorship since the last Labour government deregulated gambling in 2005, combined with the ease of online betting via smartphones, has resulted in the “gamblification” of watching football, according to research conducted by Dr Darragh McGee of the University of Bath. (The Guardian)

The GambleAware charity have highlighted the issues in their campaign which asks several pertinent questions; Is betting taking away our love of football? Are there too many gambling adverts around football? Is football becoming a gateway for kids to start gambling? Is it time to re-balance the relationship between football and gambling? The answers to those questions, in the opinion of many, is (probably) an emphatic YES.


Many will tell you that “Gambling is a Mugs Game” – especially those who’ve finally realised; “the only winner is the bookmaker!”

However; in 2017, the number of problem gamblers in the UK rose to more than 400,000 according to a Gambling Commission report which said; more than 2 million people were addicted to gambling, or at risk of developing a problem.

Across Great Britain, it is estimated that 430,000 people have a gambling problem and another two million are at risk of developing one – yet fewer than two per cent of problem gamblers are receiving treatment. (NHS)

Gambling, like any other addictive behaviour, is a difficult habit to kick, especially if it has become a large part of your life.

For some people, the impact of problem gambling may be severe and can lead to social and emotional difficulties, such as the breakdown of relationships, struggling to maintain employment, or unmanageable debt. Gambling Disorder is recognised by doctors, psychologists and counsellors as a mental health problem. (GambleAware)

Trying to break any ingrained habit always requires will-power and determination but increasing support is available.

There’s evidence that gambling can be successfully treated in the same way as other addictions. Cognitive behavioural therapy usually has the best results. (NHS)

Problem Gambling in England

Gambling behaviour is rightly a subject of public health and policy concern. Statistics are provided by resources like the NHS survey, which examines the health and lifestyles of people all over the country.

  • 56% of people in England gambled
  • 42% of people in England (excluding those who had only played National Lottery draws) gambled
  • 0.7% of people in England identified as problem gamblers
  • 1.2% of gamblers in England identified as problem gamblers
  • 3.6% of people in England were at low or moderate risk of developing problems with their gambling
  • 6.6% of gamblers in England are at low or moderate risk of developing problems with their gambling

Source: The Gambling Commission – Gambling Behaviours Report – provides information about gambling behaviour in Great Britain using data combined from the Health Survey for England (HSE) 2016, the Scottish Health Survey (SHeS) 2016 and the Wales Omnibus in 2016.

Gambling problems are growing but so are resources trying to address the issues. In early 2019, The new NHS Northern Gambling Clinic will open its doors in Leeds. Provided to treat people who have become addicted to gambling, or are at risk of becoming addicted to gambling, this facility will eventually cover all of Northern England. (Read More)

Gambling Support

  • GamCare is the leading national provider of information, advice, support and free treatment for anyone affected by problem gambling. Our expert services are confidential and non-judgemental. (
  • GamCare: Helpline: 0808 80 20 133
  • The National Problem Gambling Clinic treats problem gamblers who have been refereed by clinicians across England and Wales. The team assesses the needs of problem gamblers as well as those of their partners and family members.
  • The Gordon Moody Association offers intensive residential treatment programmes in the UK for severely addicted gamblers. (
  • GambleAware is the leading charity in the UK committed to reducing gambling-related harms. As an independent national charity funded by donations from the gambling industry. (

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.