Despite never having placed a bet in my life, I have an astonishing knowledge of bookie’s advertising campaigns.
This is not some odd pass-time that I am admitting to – my ability to quote dozens of adverts stems only from my slightly obsessive watching of football on the television.
From Sky Bet’s ‘Request a Bet,’ Ladbroke’s ‘Edit my Acca,’ William Hill’s ‘#YourOdds,’ to Bet365’s ‘In Play with Ray,’ I seem to know them all.
By the time the written warning at the end of the advert tells you ‘When the fun stops, stop,’ it is often too late. Indeed, football in England is currently plagued with gambling.
Nine of the twenty current Premier League sides bear the names of gambling sites across the front of their shirts. Betting booths are dotted around the concourses of stadia nationwide; the temptation is simply too great for too many.
I remember earlier this year travelling to Fleetwood to watch Shrewsbury Town in the depths of England’s third division. At half-time a stranger came up to me in the away end, grasping a two-foot long bet-slip in his hand, telling me he only needed Port Vale, Scunthorpe and Leeds to score and he would win thousands of pounds on an ambitious accumulator.
Of course, betting is a source of great fun to many. This man’s £1 accumulator each week is not the problem.
As Jeff Stelling reminds us in a recent Sky Bet ad: “Betting should only enhance the excitement.” For many it does.
Footballers themselves are restricted from betting on any matches due to fear of match-fixing. This is of course a sensible rule from the FA – yet the ever-rising number of players being accused and found guilty of breaking these rules suggests that there is a gambling culture among players as well as fans.
Joey Barton’s behaviour is perhaps the best documented. He was banned from playing for eighteen months by the FA back in 2017 after it was discovered he had placed numerous bets on the teams he was playing for.
Whilst at Manchester City, he even bet against them in their 2006 encounter with West Ham.
Former Manchester United, Newcastle and Blackburn winger Keith Gillespie managed to blow his entire career earnings of over £7 million in order to feed his gambling addiction, as he opened revealed upon his bankruptcy in 2014.
Lesser known is the case of Notts County defender Matt Tootle. In September he confessed to having a chronic gambling addiction, claiming betting is “rife in football.”
And now Daniel Sturridge – despite denying that he has ever bet on football – looks set to join the list of offenders.
The Liverpool front man supposedly disclosed information about his loan move to West Brom in January, which saw punters attempt to put £5,000 on the move going through when odds were as high as 66/1.
This only backs up Tootle’s claim.
Advertising is a lot of the problem. I remember a Coral advert a few months ago which claimed betting was the only way to actually ‘get involved’ in football. Otherwise you were just watching it.
Football is steadily becoming a means to an end – the end being that of almost inevitably losing money.
The sooner the Gambling Commission, FA and the Advertising Standards Authority can club together to at least get rid of the tempting adverts that seem to be on repeat when we watch football on the television, the better.
Thinking of yet more betting ads, Coral’s latest offering springs to mind. It tells you that you can ‘bet silly,’ or ‘bet savvy’ (by using their site). I somehow doubt the next ad will advise you not to bet at all.
Image: Dean Jones via Flickr