The latest initiative to be announced from Another Way is the club’s support for the Big Step campaign which aims to change the relationship between betting companies and football. I’ve got splinters in a very delicate area because my opinion on this topic is a perfect straddle of the fence.
Gambling addiction is horrific. It’s a destroyer of lives and I’ve seen it first hand with many of my friends in the footballing world. It’s not dramatic to say it’s life-threatening. The amount of misery and destruction it causes to individuals and families is mind-blowing and there’s no argument against action being taken to quell the addiction. If a link can be proven between gambling advertising in football and gambling addiction then it should be banned.
But is that link a reality? I think that’s one heck of a stretch. I get as fed up with the next bloke with the constant barrage of adverts during live football coverage. It’s even worse here in Spain, they don’t bother waiting for the break, they have a ticker tape at the bottom of the screen displaying the odds during live games.
Shirt sponsorship is huge and all the English league divisions with the exception of the Premier League are sponsored by a betting company. The loss of revenue would be horrendous but some things are more important than money.
If I thought a blanket ban on advertising would solve the problem I’d be 100% for it but I don’t think it would. What’s needed is education.
Prevention is better than cure. Get into the schools and drill into the kids at primary school age that gambling can become a disease if it is not treated with respect.
My argument against an all-out war against betting in football is that it impinges on an individual’s right to choose. I’ve gambled all my life. When my dad taught me how to count it wasn’t one, two, three, but evens, six to four and two to one. It’s one of my hobbies and I accept that the hobby is going to cost me money. I probably spend as much on gambling as I do on golf but that’s my choice, It’s my hobby.
There are some tremendous charities that do great work, the Sporting Chance Clinic set up by former Arsenal captain Tony Adams is one that springs to mind. If there is no link between advertising and gambling then I would like to see football take more money from the bookmakers and invest it in education and rehabilitation for those who have lost control of their gambling habits.
The money should be spent on independent lecturers that have experience and can tell of the horror that can come from addiction. It’s no good asking the betting industry to regulate itself and produce its own programmes, what industry would turn the next generation against its product?
There is too much deception as it is, cooling-off periods, betting limits, and self-exclusion are all gimmicks designed to look as if the gambling industry cares about its clients. The bottom line is the more people that bet the greater the profit margin for the company. I personally think that football is a tiddler in this pond, it’s the slots and the virtual casinos that destroy lives. Football should take the lead, take the bookies’ money and use it against them and make the next generation much less susceptible to addiction.
Former Forest Green manager Frank Gregan has teamed up with Stroud Times to look back on his time at the New Lawn.
Now living in Spain and a published author, the former sergeant major joined Rovers in 1994 – leading his side to back-to-back promotions and Wembley final. Frank transformed the club from non-league minnows, charting the way for what they have gone onto achieve under the late Trevor Horsley’s successor Dale Vince.
Follow Frank on Twitter: @Greegers