The normalisation of gambling in football

The World Cup revealed the extent to which the gambling industry has become embedded in professional sport, writes the bishop of St Albans, Alan Smith

It is right for Simon Stevens of NHS England to highlight the worrying connection between gambling and sports (Report, 6 September). The World Cup revealed the extent to which the gambling industry has become embedded in professional sport. Viewers were presented with more than 60 live-odds betting adverts during the contest. These encouraged people to bet, including the 430,000 problem gamblers in the country.

It’s not just grumpy parents who have had enough of these adverts. This year young people who watched live football complained of seeing too many, with the average 14- to 18-year-old watching 3.8 gambling adverts every day. No wonder many people are worried that this is creating a timebomb as young people are being conditioned to think betting is an integral part of football.

Gambling addiction costs the UK between £260m and £1.2bn every year and it is totally unacceptable that so many foreign firms will not help the victims but expect the British taxpayer to pick up the bill. That’s why we need a compulsory levy for gambling companies that does not just help those who are addicted but also funds independent research.
Alan Smith
Bishop of St Albans

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