Posted February 11, 2014 by John Baintree in News

Sporting Heroes with a Gambling Problem

sports stars gambling
sports stars gambling

What is it about sporting stars that can lead to gambling problems? Without doubt there has been a number of high profile gambling casualties over the years but what lies behind it and how can the issues be addressed?

Tony Adams, former Arsenal and England football star who once himself struggled with addiction problems founded Sporting Chance which pioneers the way in treating addiction issues. Sporting Chance has recently raised a flag of concern over the number of sporting celebrities that they are encountering at their clinic and on their help lines.

There does appear to be a justification for their concerns. High profile gamblers such as Michael Phelps, the most decorated Olympian of all time, Gordon Taylor of the PFA and other celebrity soccer players such as Michael Owen and Matthew Etherington all have documented gambling habits. According to Colin Bland, CEO at Sporting Chance there are a number of factors that make gambling for sports stars a potential problem.

Desire to win

No successful athlete would ever be successful without a strong, overwhelming desire to win. When taken outside the sporting context that passion can be harmful and this is one of the factors that can lead to sports stars becoming addicted to gambling.

Aggressive marketing

Today, following the rapid deregulation of gambling, marketing campaigns and tactics have become both aggressive and common place. With such a prevalence of gambling marketing it becomes very difficult for an individual with a problem to change their behavior. Face it, would you expect a cocaine addict to get clean while living in a crack den or an alcoholic living over a pub to get dry?

Easy Cash

Strange as it may seem for sports stars who are paid massive amounts of money, Sporting Chance maintain that the prevalence of Pay Day Loan organisations is also a factor. Bland commented recently that it is not uncommon for professional sports stars to use payday loans as a way of generating cashflow without alerting those around them. While interest rates may not be the problem, the issue is certainly that gambling behavior can be so easily disguised. Bland maintains that his organisation has recently been working with unnamed players who have lost £7 million over a three year period.

Online gambling

The final factor that appears to create such a perfect storm for sporting gamblers to become addicted is the endless rise of the online gambling site. We understand that gambling is a habit and now, with website appearing at an alarmingly frequent rate, it appears that it is even easier for a sports star to become addicted.