Gambling Addict’s Walking Tour of 8 Football Clubs Aims to Raise Awareness

  • Ex-gambler walked between eight different football stadiums
  • Aim was to raise awareness of the link between football and gambling
  • He started gambling at 16 and lost over £100,000
Illuminated soccer stadium under night sky
Ex-gambling addict walks between stadiums to raise awareness of football and gambling sponsorships.

Lost over £100,000

Recovering gambler James Grimes from Lancashire, UK, walked 125 miles between eight football club destinations to raise awareness of problem gambling.

James started gambling when he was just 16 and estimates that he has lost a total of about £100,000 ($125,000). Now 29 years old, he has beaten his addiction and he wants to raise money for a well-known gambling charity in order to help others.

This week he completed his tour of visiting eight different football teams in the North of England, with any money raised going to Gambling With Lives.

The eight football teams he chose to visit all have sponsorships or partnerships with gambling companies, something the UK Premier League is well-known for, and by doing so James hopes he can get the clubs to reflect on these deals.

Football and gambling

For James, the link between football and gambling has only been present over the last few years. He said, “The fact that the whole of the Football League is sponsored by a gambling company was certainly not happening when I started gambling.”

With the amount of advertising in football increasing over the last decade, James suggests that it contributed to his addiction.

“I couldn’t watch a football game without gambling,” he said. “It eventually became that it didn’t matter if I won or lost, I had to put a bet on no matter what.”

The addiction sacrificed his ability to hold down jobs and relationships and saw him taking out around 20 pay-day loans. He finally got help 14 months ago and hasn’t gambled since.

The stadiums

James managed to tackle his gambling problems on his own but was moved by some of the stats from Gambling With Lives, a charity created by the families of those who took their own lives due to gambling debts.

He said, “Research from the charity shows that between 250 and 650 people commit suicide due to gambling problems each year.

“I didn’t ever get to that point but I could see how I could have got to that point.”

James started his journey at the Etihad Stadium, home to Manchester City, before travelling on to the John Smith’s Stadium (Huddersfield Town), Elland Road (Leeds United), Turf Moor (Burnley), Ewood Park (Blackburn Rovers), Deepdale (Preston North End F.C.), then moving on to Bolton Park (Bolton Wanderers) and finishing at Old Trafford (Manchester United).

James hopes that his perseverance will encourage the clubs to think harder about their associations. He said, “Preston, Burnley, and Blackburn are all sponsored by betting firms. 17 out of the 24 championship clubs are sponsored by betting firms and nine Premier League clubs have betting firms as their shirt sponsors.

“I want to use this walk to start a conversation, to possibly get those clubs to start evaluating whether they can do more to prevent young kids turning into gambling addicts.”