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The Scottish against gambling in football l The main men vs. SPFL

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How many times you switch a TV channel and watch a football commercial going in?  That split second will remind you, that you need to head over to your favorite UK betting site to place your bets.  It might not be your hometown team, yet you still spend a fiver or two just for the thrill of it all. This is gambling. And this is the exact reason why the Scottish are taking a stand towards gambling addictions.

Albeit a staggering world pandemic ravaging the world, The Big Step forward is still taking a stance against all gambling campaigns related to football. The NGO hopes to tackle the problem that football gambling generates, and their twitter posts highlight that we need to stop gambling with lives.

Footballer with ball - The major talents of the premier league
Photo by Connor Coyne on Unsplash

Starting off at Parkhead and walking all the way through to Ibrox, the group aim to raise awareness of the rising suicide rate, that  is related to gambling. The Big Step wants to work towards abolishing gambling sponsorships on club T-Shirt, as they feel such sponsorships will lead the punted to gamble. 

This is bad news for both Scottish football clubs Celtic and Rangers, as they both don gambling funded football tops. Apart from this, one needs to also discuss the fact that the SPFL (Scottish Premiership Football League) is mainly sponsored by gambling giant and veteran Landrokes.

The Big Step stresses that gambling could be prevented, yet the current we live in, we are surrounded by football betting campaigns, deals, offers, and the sole purpose of this all, is just to lure the punter to gambling.

Indeed, the Big Step is calling for an NHS funded treatment that is aimed to tackle individuals suffering from gambling disorders, across Scotland. And let’s speak the truth, The Big Step are right, and the people uncovering the truth about gambling are ex gambling addicts.

From the outside Martin Paterson seems like your average Joe. The guy that has a simple quiet life.  Paterson’s past tells a dark story.  As a recovered gambling addict himself, Paterson is the main main behind Beat the Fix, and has led the symbolic walk this weekend in the streets of Scotland. When interviewed following the walk, Paterson had some words to tell us all, that includes:

Scottish football is doomed by gambling

Paterson asks us to take a closer look at Scottish football and asks us to highlight where we can see gambling. Stadiums are all splashed with advertising UK betting sites. The player kits and even the commercials if you are watching the match from the comfort of your own home. The ex gambling addict founded The Big Step because his heart and soul lies with football, yet he still walked away and stopped watching due to gambling.  Switching on his tv to watch a match Paterson was surrounded by gambling ads, this is why he feels this cause matters, and if successful, could save many families and lives.

Paterson ended the interview with stressing that a new gambler, the one that never feels the addiction coming, is the same one that started with the odd bet at UK betting sites. He encouraged all gamblers to the Big Step and seeks help, if they feel that gambling has become a problem.

Even MPs are joining the cause, with Inverclyde MP Ronnie Cowan leading the walkers. Cowan currently forms part of the Westminster working party that plans to take down the UK’s gambling problem.

The MP has called on all football clubs to join the cause, and renounce the brand on their respective Scottish football shirt. A bold move, one that could have a downdall on Uk betting sites, especially with them already reaping what the stoppage of sporting events brought in during the lockdown days. 

The MP has sent letters to all 42 Scottish clubs, and asked them diplomatically to join the crusade. How?  Cowan feels that the big step would start by all clubs signing and endorsing a charter, that would see them walk away from sponsorships funded by gambling companies.  He feels that also ground and online club advertisement should be abolished for good.

The bold MP aimed at the Scottish Professional Football League Chief Neil Doncaster, and shamed him for  the 2 million Ladbrokes deal.  Cowan blasted Doncaster for allowing a small amount of money to make way to much bigger revenues derived from the Lanbrokes advertising throughout the whole season.  Possibly, this could be the main reason that Landbrokes opted out of signing a fresh 5 year deal with the SPFL. The biggest gambling deal in Scottish history, also damned by the Westminster committee of MPs, that have worked tooth and nail to finally abolish gambling from sports once and for all.

After the break up occurred between the SPFL and Landbrokes, undoubtedly the league is looking for a new sponsor. Following the stoppage of the SPFL contract, Landbrokes stepped it down a notch and started having less online and marketing presence since December 2019.  The only cup that is now associated with gambling and sponsoring the SPFL is indeed The Betfred Cup. Will these deals stop the ever growing gambling issues brought in by football gambling?

In May 2020, Gable Aware Charity was commissioned by YouGov to bring to the table the true gambling problem figures in the UK. Astonishing figures from the survey highlight the severity of gambling across the UK. A total of 2.7% of all the adults in Great Britain, that translates to around 1.4 million people admitted to having and living with a serious gambling problem.  It is no joke that such a massive amount of people feel that they have lost control and let gambling take over and win. On the other hand, industry experts feel that the2.7% figure is just going overboard and urged everyone to consider the addiction rate that was highlighted from the health survey figures, commissioned and executed by the UKGC (United Kingdom Gaming Commission). The industry regulator said a more realistic figure is 0.7% with 7% of adults (3.6 million people) admitting that they have had their lives negatively impacted with gambling brought in by another family member.

In summary to the above data and statistics, a total of 5 million British people feel that gambling has had an adverse effect in their lives,  both directly and indirectly. Yet, the most impactful figure that one cannot ignore is the upsteep figures of child problem gambling addicts (those who are not of the legal 18 year old). The figures have been rising since the past 2 years and show a 50,000 figure of young kids spending their money on betting, gambling and nurturing an ever growing gambling addiction that will most probably ruin their future. The generational scandal, and the failure to educate tomorrow’s adults, and mould them into responsible human beings.

A UKGC 2018 audit highlight the age of young gamblers to be between 11 and 16, a further 70,000 youngsters are at risk of becoming gamblers and a further 450,000 children feel that betting regularly is a must.  This mean, one in every 7 children eteen the age of 11 and 16 having gambling as part of their everyday life.  The norm.

The Scottish Big Step also gave their nod of approval to the government announcing the review of the full Gambling Act.  Across the United Kingdom, gambling addicts and their family members, welcomed the news with a sponsored 130 mile walk that spread across 5 whole days.  The walk also included the walkers visiting various Premier League and other Championship football clubs who currently don sponsorships with uk betting sites and other gambling entities.

A walker interviewed prior to the walk stressed that ‘’Young people make up a significant percentage of the audience of the Scottisg Premiership Football and are being exposed to gambling through shirt sponsorship, pitch side advertising, TV broadcast advertising, social media coverage and endorsements by footballers “This exposure is proven to increase brand recall and brand recognition in children as young as six years old, normalising gambling as a part of football.He continued that “many of these placements, like gambling advertising on sports shirts, are not in scope of the ‘whistle to whistle’ ban run by the gambling industry – and so are clearly on view during every game sponsored.

This event hopes to draw attention to the suicide risk of gambling disorder, while promoting the development of an independent NHS treatment system in Scotland – modelled on the NHS Northern Gambling Service in England.” This is the hope that these recovering gamblers hope to bring, the no luring in policy that uk betting sites employ.

Cowan is again calling on the SPFL to take a stance and be very wise when signing their next sponsorship deal. The MP urged Doncaster to send a message through signing in an SPFL partner, and never let gambling affect the championship again. A message that will indeed prevent gambling Cowan hopes.  The main MP on a crusade to destroy gambling believes that gambling is a silent killer that shows no mercy, and that football gambling starts off a very serious gambling career path.

Cowan feels a change to the Gambling Act is necessary, one that reflects the 24/7 digital world that we all live in. He reminded the House of Lords that sports should finds it roots again, and should remind people of exercise and good health, as opposed to leading way to gambling and serious mental health issues, bankruptacy, family loss and even suicide. Cowan says that we should unite in not allowing football clubs to let deals and gambling sponsors take over their team shirt, as this means the club is cultivating and grooming its followers and supporters to gambling. The House of Lords, agrees that a ban of uk betting sites sponsorships should be launched in the football niche.

Although the government is current;y dealing with waves of Covid 19 trashing the UK, the entity has promised to look into the matter and suggest amendments to the Gamibling Act and laws if needed. A Big Step campaigner has highlighted that their campaign  will not stop, and they will continue to put pressure to instigate change. The goal is to save as many people as possible from becoming gamblers.  In theory, saving the world, one gambler at a time.

On the other hand, the SPFL shot back stating that a small gamble or two during a match is now part of the norm. People enjoy the odd bet, and football betting has generated employment and economic growth to the country.  But to the expense of who we ask?  The SPFL does oppose the full on ban, and stresses that all their football clubs, footballers and sponsors are ambassadors for responsible gaming.  The SPFL keeps promoting RG and promises everyone that they will keep engaging in fruitful conversations with Gamble Aware.

Are you pro ban or not?  Vent off below.

 
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