They tell us that when the fun stops, stop – but the fun never stops for them. It seems that it is the bookies who always have the fun. They always have some poor soul who is willing to throw a few quid on the impossible – with the faint hope of striking it rich.
This seldom works out as well as the customer would like – leaving the big bookie with the last laugh.
It’s easy to get sucked into gambling. It’s a vacuum, a web even. You throw on €5 here, then another there, you might win a little, throw that back on, and repeat the cycle and there you go – nine times out of ten you end up with an empty pocket and a very confused logic. The scale of the gambling problem which exists across Britain and Ireland is one which is grossly underestimated.
Headlines in recent months have showcased the 18-month ban handed to Burnley footballer Joey Barton for his breach of regulations, but although largely in the wrong, Barton’s statement makes for interesting reading in which he makes note of the recent “explosion in sports betting.”
We are living in an era which lacks necessary research, and with the ever-growing influence of the superpowers of the betting industry, proper and just scrutiny of an ever-growing habit will never become sufficient.
Barton’s story has brought the spotlight back upon a practice that for decades has been passively accepted as ‘part of the game’, not just with football, but all sports. According to The Guardian, British people lost £12.6 billion in 2015 through gambling alone – a loss of almost £300 per person – and this is what allows the industry to constantly branch out and expand, feeding off of our naivety.
We win once and think we will win forever. In-play and remote betting have skyrocketed in popularity, as our lazy society basks off of the simplicity of placing a bet without having to move a muscle.
Not nearly enough is known on the effects of gambling on those who partake, and while the lack of clarity exists – the industry and its associated technologies continue to become all the more influential. Technology advances at such a fast pace that the structures that are tasked to control it simply cannot keep up. The new platform of existing gambling services increases exposure and availability of the system to unprecedented levels. A study conducted by the University of Bristol (via The Times) found that one in four of 1,000 men aged between 18 and 24 displayed signs of a gambling problem.
The leading professor, Dr Sean Cowlishaw cites that effective research is stunted by a lack of funding on the part of the gambling industry itself:
“Most of what we know about gambling harm is through research and evidence heavily influenced by industry,” said Cowlishaw.
“The amount of money put up is incredibly small and the industry has been able to maintain control over the topics addressed.”
So what Cowlishaw is telling us, in a nutshell, is that the source of gambling addiction is the industry, yet we’ve allowed the industry to also withhold control of the funding towards research to such issues, and yet we wonder why it’s happening? It’s happening because they can pull the wool over our eyes.
Whenever we look at football though, gambling is simply all around us. Be it on a shirt sponsor, an advertising board, the ad breaks during a match with the odds popping up left, right and centre, the industry offering free live streaming of football at the charge of placing a bet.
These are all things that, even though we don’t realise, we sub-consciously feed off and buy into them, and it has gotten to the point where the presence of such doesn’t even provoke negative thought in us anymore. It’s become so easy for us to get involved that it’s almost impossible not to. The industry is everywhere we look.
The industry controls how we fight the industry. Where’s the fun in that, right? They say when the fun stops, stop. But how does it ever start? Contrary to what the eternal optimist might always believe – unfortunately, it seems the bookie always wins.
Jordan Norris, Pundit Arena