Gambling is having a psychological impact on today’s athletes, according to several player associations in the UK.
The Professional Footballers’ Association (PFA), the Professional Cricketers’ Association (PCA), and the Rugby Players Association (RPA) have all expressed their concern over the influence gambling can have within elite sport.
According to a report from the Independent, 42 per cent of professional cricketers gamble on a monthly basis. Michael Bennett, head of the PFA, views today’s access to gambling as being easy to fall into.
On your iPhone, on your iPad, laptop, Mac, whatever. You click. ‘Are you 18?’ Yes, and you’re in.”
Another issue he pointed out is the fact that a lot of young players have too much time on their hands after they finish training, plus the fact that players have large amounts of money to play with. “It’s not an issue them losing it, because they’re on decent money, but they’re beginning to chase monies they’ve lost which becomes an issue”, he added.
Gambling addicts in sports
As part of its The Sporting Mind investigation, the Independent has uncovered how damaging gambling can be to former and current sports people.
In one instance, an ex-Premier League footballer was forced to live on his friends’ sofas due to his gambling addiction. He was previously earning £24,000 ($29,000) a week.
In another case, a former professional footballer who was 22 at the time reportedly gambled £11,000 ($13,300) after missing a penalty in an FA Cup qualifier.
Adding to the psychological impact are betting firms. According to one football agent, they were being approached by companies offering footballers free credit to endorse their services.
One of the agents interviewed stated this was “tens and tens of thousands,” with the first £10,000 ($12,000) free. He added: “I’d never pass on that message as it’s obscene. Toxic. Very irresponsible.”
PCA gambling survey
A nationwide gambling survey – shown to the Independent – involving 384 players and 32 coaches has found that:
- 76% of players feel gambling is a problem in cricket
- 78% of players feel that either they personally, or somebody close to them, gamble more than they should
- 51% of players believe there is a gambling culture at their club
- 15% of players admit to gambling every day
- 22% of players admit to gambling weekly
- 42% of players admit to gambling monthly
Ian Thomas, director of development and welfare at the PCA, said of the findings that gambling is “a big challenge in all sports”. Yet, one factor that has stood out for him is that players with gambling problems have probably had these issues since they were 16. He observed that “it’s very accessible for a young school lad to get into gambling.”
Such is the problem of gambling in today’s technologically savvy society that it’s becoming harder to cure than a drug problem. That’s according to UK counselor Nuno Leitao, who works at the Charing Cross Centre, a charity in Norwich.
In a report from last month, he noted that gambling is becoming difficult to combat because it’s everywhere and there’s no limit on what one can spend. He added: “I’ve seen people spend £100,000 ($121,000) a week. This illness is difficult to control.”