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Yasmin Moore October 14, 2022 3 min read
Addict Suicide Victim Families to Walk against Gambling Sponsorships
On Friday and Saturday, families, who have lost loved ones because of gambling-related suicide, and people recovering from gambling addiction, will take part in a walk to five Yorkshire stadiums as part of a campaign aiming at ending sponsorship and gambling advertising in football. The march was organized by the Big Step, a campaign that was designed by people, who suffered from gambling, to stop gambling ads and sponsorship in football.
Kay, the mother of 32-year-old Kimberly Wadsworth from Leeds, who committed suicide in 2018, will join the walk from Sheffield Wednesday’s Hillsborough through Sheffield United’s Bramall Lane, Rotherham’s New York Stadium, and Barnsley’s Oakwell. Then, on Saturday, the group of people will continue from Barnsley to Leeds, thus passing 41 miles (approximately 64km) in two days. In addition, Kay is calling on the British government to regulate strictly the gambling sector in order to prevent more suicides.
A 32-year-old Leeds fan died as a result of a gambling addiction
Kay’s daughter, Kimberly Wadsworth, who was a passionate Leeds fan, was a gambling addict. In 2015 she started playing on fixed-odds betting terminals following the death of her father and an unhappy marriage. She ended up betting on online casinos. Later, she obtained a VIP status from the gaming operators she gambled with. She was encouraged by the gambling companies to continue betting even when she was losing significant amounts. She took her own life when she lost £44,000 ($49,277), including £17,000 ($19,038)from her grandmother’s will.
In 2014, 27-year-old Liverpool fan Ryan Myers took his own life after becoming addicted to gambling. The Big Step organized a walk in Myers’ memory from Manchester to Liverpool in July 2022. Prior to that, in February, a three-day hike took place in Scottish stadiums on the route from Edinburgh to Glasgow in memory of Lewis Keogh, a Sheffield Wednesday fan aged 34, who died because of gambling.
In 2021, Public Health England estimated that 409 gambling-related suicides are committed in England each year. The death of Kimberly reminds us that gambling addiction is not only a male weakness.
The 2005 Gambling Act Is to Blame
James Grimes, the founder of Big Step and organizer of the walks, commented that gambling is not just a male addiction. He is a recovering addict, who started playing at 16 as a Tottenham fan. He added that he might have become a gambling addict because of the liberalized 2005 Gambling Act, which allowed betting advertising to flood TV, radio, and the web.
Big Step visited five Yorkshire clubs this weekend and only one, namely Leeds, had a shirt with a betting sponsor on it, the Manx-based SBOTOP. When Big Step launched its campaign in 2019, 28 of 44 Premier League and Championship clubs had shirts by betting sponsors. Currently, the number of clubs is reduced to 14.