“Paul Merson: Football, Gambling & Me” is a documentary that will reveal the issues the famous football player and manager has experienced throughout his life. The film starts at 21:00 BST and is yet another production by the broadcaster dedicated to the hazards of excessive gambling.
The plot will revolve around Merson’s unfortunate story in the past year. Like so many other Brits during the lockdown, Merson had difficulties with social isolation. He started spending more and more time online, enjoying online gambling portals. Unfortunately, his choices led him to addiction, which saw him spending all of his savings on online gambling.
More and more studies are coming out recently confirming that many people like Merson have fallen prey to the dangers of excessive gambling. A recent study by the University of Sterling and the University of Glasgow revealed that some regular gamblers had decreased their gambling activity during the lockdown. However, a substantial minority – 17.3% of men and 16.5% of women – has started a new gambling habit.
The lockdown was especially profitable for the online casinos. Data from the UK’s Gambling Commission, for example, revealed that online virtual sports betting in March 2020 increased by 88% compared to the same month in 2019. For online poker, this number was 53%.
Merson is Not Alone, Inspires Others to Admit the Problem
Merson’s issues with alcohol and gambling are well documented as a football pundit. However, in his latest public confession, he admitted the difficulties of handling such addictions and the harsh, judgemental reactions.
After his latest appearance on ITV’s Good Morning Britain show, where he revealed his recent relapse, the GamCare’s National Helpline registered a sharp spike of calls following his interview. According to experts, this is another solid indicator of how deep the problem with gambling addiction is in the UK.
Political Discontent Targets Gambling in the UK
The story of Merson arrives at a pivotal moment for gambling in the UK. For the past decade, the political sentiments towards gambling have not been supportive. Public figures have often compared gambling to smoking and have highlighted the success in curbing smoking through government intervention. In 2020, a House of Lords committee on gambling issued a heavy report with more than 50 suggestions for reform. In February, the Gambling Commission announced new measures, seeking to make online gambling safer by design.
The gambling industry in the UK earns more than $8.03 billion a year. It remains a valuable asset to the economy through employment, investments in new technologies and sponsorships of different causes and sports.