Spending curbed early in career
Former Premier League striker Chris Sutton has called for more players to speak about their experiences with gambling after admitting to developing a habit during his early playing career.
his mother had to limit his spending money to just £10 ($13) per day
His struggles with gambling began at the start of his professional soccer career. His gambling habit was so bad when he was 19 years old that his mother had to limit his spending money to just £10 ($13) per day.
At the time, Sutton was scoring goals in the English Premier League (EPL), and earning a lot of money for a teenager in the process. He was paid £500 ($652) per week by Norwich City.
Didn’t understand the value of money
Sutton spoke about how he had never had so much money in his life at that stage. He didn’t grasp the value of money and instead began to copy what other soccer players around him were doing.
He spoke about how teammates would go straight to the bookmakers to place bets after training sessions. They would then go back to someone’s house to place more bets using Teletext.
The group also frequented a casino in Great Yarmouth. Sutton spoke about how he and his fellow players were a popular attraction at the casino, likely due to how much money they are spending there. The casino boss even gave them free lobster when they visited.
Where it all started going wrong
It didn’t take long for Sutton to realize he had a gambling problem. He said:
The house always wins, and I was soon the loser, thousands of pounds in debt.”
As he began to panic, he went home to his parents house and revealed his issues with gambling. His mother said she would pay off her son’s gambling debts and then control his future paychecks.
She would only allow her son to spend £10 ($13) per day. From this point onward, Sutton says the thought of gambling away hundreds of pounds made him feel physically sick.
He signed for Blackburn Rovers in 1994 and received a bump in his pay packet. There was a similar gambling culture among players at his new club. On the team bus, there would be games of three-card brag, with as much as £200 ($260) being exchanged per hand.
Sutton learned from his past mistakes and avoided these games on the bus.
Successful player turned pundit
He was able to overcome his problems with gambling at an early age. He went on to have a great career, banging in goals for 16 years in both the English and Scottish Premier Leagues.
Despite his talents, Sutton only made one appearance for the English national team, subsequently falling out with the manager Glenn Hoddle. He now works in media as a pundit.
Other stars have spoken out
Many high-profile soccer players have spoken about their experiences with gambling in recent years. This includes the likes of Wayne Rooney, Paul Merson, and John Hartson.
After receiving an 18-month ban for betting offenses, Joey Barton spoke about the massive culture of gambling among soccer players.