The Gambling Problem in Football.

Gambling is football is an increasing problem but is it the player’s fault or the footballing body?

Football Jerseys advertising betting companies.

The very top tiers of English football are laden with influences to gamble. A very prominent example is that the Football League (Tiers 2–4) itself are sponsored by SkyBet and is called the SkyBet Football League. But, this is just one of the many poisonous types of advertising that betting companies use. From sponsoring teams on lucrative 4-year deals to the advertising boards that surround the pitch, football has become overrun by the betting companies as they rely on these companies to garner some extra income. Money has become such a key factor in football that clubs seem to forget most, if not all, their morals when it comes to sponsors and advertising.

Joey Barton. Joey Barton was recently banned for 18 months for betting on football matches which footballers are banned from doing as it states in the rules. However, Joey made a very valid point in that football is so overwhelmed with the advertising of betting companies that it is almost impossible to turn a blind-eye to it all. He himself admitted that he was in the wrong although he never match-fixed the results based on the bets he made as the times he did bet against his own team he was never in the team (starting line-up or the bench) and therefore could not influence the result in any way whatsoever. Also, he points out the other players in football having gambling problems and that he grew up in an environment where betting was encouraged and part of the culture. It feels like you cannot escape the burden of betting companies in today’s world. Burnley, the team Joey most recently played for, are sponsored by Dafabet. Dafabet are a Philippines-based gambling company that sponsor Burnley, Sunderland, Blackburn. A mixture of teams with a varied reputation and location around the country. Celtic, one the biggest teams in Scotland with a large fan base in the Republic of Ireland also, are also sponsored by Dafabet. Celtic are a worldwide recognised team that play in European competitions almost every year and are on our TVs a lot of the time. There really is no escape.

“I think if the FA is truly serious about tackling the culture of gambling in football, it needs to look at its own dependence on the gambling companies, their role in football and in sports broadcasting, rather than just blaming the players who place a bet.” ~ Joey Barton

What can the FA do to stop this problem?

The gambling problem can probably never be stopped but it can be reduced by simply cutting ties with these companies. However, this would causes major issues with the finances in football as some clubs rely on these big investments by the betting companies to keep them running. It seems that the FA is very dependent on these types of companies to keep the money in football. The FA did a very similar thing with smoking and alcohol sponsorships where they banned them completely from the game. So why can’t they do the same for gambling companies? They are just as bad as them, if not worse! It feels like gambling has consumed the world of football as everywhere we look it has some sort of advertisement for betting. The TV ads during a game are majority of betting companies showing the recent odds or something related to the match. Whether it be “Next Goalscorer” or “___ to win”, the presence of these betting companies is always there and it’s very toxic to the viewers. An advertisement to gamble away possible hard-earned money to a company that ruins people’s lives on a daily basis and will continue to do.

Yes, the customer has the choice whether to place a bet or not but when the companies are enticing you with “Free Bets”, that aren’t actually free, then many people will jump at the chance. This starts a vicious cycle of betting more often. Maybe once a month goes to once a week and then eventually can lead to addiction. Addiction is something that these betting companies reluctantly warn against as the addictive customers are the ones who bring them in the most money. It probably seems easy to stop being ‘addicted’ to betting but many people have the mind-set that they need to make a profit or at least their money back. This leads to silly bets for silly amounts of money which just decreases their personal bank account and increases the need for betting. In their eyes, of course.

The FA and betting companies alike should do more to tackle the gambling problem. However, we all know how useless the FA are and we also all know how business works so for the foreseeable future I cannot see any change happening at all. Hopefully the FA can prove me wrong but for now… the problem will not decrease it will infact increase.