Pro Athletes Suffer from Gambling Addiction, Charity Says

A charity clinic, Sporting Chance, has raised the question of gambling addiction in practicing and retired professional athletes. According to Sporting Chance chief executive, Colin Brand, gambling and sports have reached a pivotal point of overlap.

Sporting Chance Urges a Reexamination of Gambling-Sports Relationship

When it comes to gambling addiction, consumers are usually the first that regulators worry about. Yet, professional athletes may be just as susceptible to addiction, a new letter by Sporting Chance, a charity in the United Kingdom suggests.

According to the organization, half of all patients at the clinic are seeking help for problems that relate to excessive gambling or related harm, and of these, 60% are professional athletes.

That is not surprising and least of all to Sporting Chance founder Tony Adams, a former England national soccer team captain and Arsenal FC player. The clinic is designed to help tackle addictive issues in active and retired athletes.

Adams fears that the relationship between gambling and sport has reached a pivotal point and that gambling sponsorships in sports will increase as the main revenue and funding model.  He is surrounded by like-minded individuals who wish to address any potential harm that stems from gambling and affects athletes’ welfare.

Sporting Chance chief executive Colin Brand shares Adams’ opinion and believes that reform is necessary to change how sports and gambling intersect and prevent a future in which gambling operators can exert too much leverage over sporting contests. Brand has laid bare his argument against the amalgamation of sports and gambling in an open letter.

Meanwhile, the clinic has launched the GATE initiative, which stands for Gambling, Awareness, treatment, and Education, in a bid to approach sporting organization and address the rise of gambling that permeates professional athletic contests.

Addressing a Serious Health Issue

In his letter, Brand explains that gambling has become a serious public health issue. With the industry maturing for over a decade in the United Kingdom now, the country is indeed one of the most liberal gambling markets in Europe and the world.

Estimated 50% of all Premier League teams have a betting or gambling sponsorship and display a gambling logo on their shirt. In 2019, teams earned a record £349.1 million from shirt sponsorship deals, placing such deals as one of the highest sources of revenue.  

According to a report by Deloitte on the most successful and richest soccer clubs, covering the period between 2019-2020, roughly 50% of their total generated revenue is attributed to commercial partnerships in contrast to the ‘match day’ statistics showing that an estimated 35% of income is via broadcast deals and only around 19% is from commercials.

Brand has expressed concerns that gambling is already having an impact on the mental health of those involved in professional sports and particularly athletes. Brand and Adams are pushing for the industry to shift its revenue model away from dependence on gambling operations and onto alternative sources of revenue.

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