More needs to be done to tackle the ‘serious public health issue’ posed by problem gambling, according to Sporting Chance clinic after stating that almost half of its clients are afflicted by gambling-related harm.
Of its clients being treated for problem gambling, the charity told BBC Sport that 60% of its patients are current professionals with cases eclipsing those treated for alcohol or drugs addiction.
“Gambling has been an issue even stretching back to my playing days,” said former Arsenal captain Tony Adams, who is also the founder of the charity. “But it seems to be the biggest issue now, more than alcohol.”
Sporting Chance is a registered British based charity which provides specialist addiction and recovery facilities for athletes in addition to treatment and education services.
Discussing the rising number of athletes affected by problem gambling, Colin Bland, Sporting Chance’s Chief Executive, explained that there needs to be ‘meaningful reform in order to protect against further avoidable harm’.
He added: “It is apparent that many people within professional sport are uncomfortable with the level at which the gambling industry has managed to embed itself in the fabric of their beloved sports.”
In an open letter, Bland noted that there had been an increase in requests from professional athletes for further education on the risks associated with gambling.
The charity is said to be undertaking talks with sports bodies about their relationship with the industry, citing ‘concerns about the amount of gambling exposure our clients are faced with when returning to their professional environment both while receiving and after completing treatment’.
He added: “While we can successfully treat individuals, it is also important to try to prevent and protect against unnecessary harm. While Sporting Chance is not anti-gambling, we do believe that change is needed.”