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Gambling is a purposefully easy habit to fall into

James Moultrie discusses his personal experiences with sports betting and the controversy around gambling addiction

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Image Credit: BeGambleAware.org

BETTING COMPANIES have come under serious pressure in recent weeks, due to the amount of pressure they are placing on the NHS.

Gambling addiction is worse than ever, with sports fans being unable to avoid the companies given how the company logos are all over kits and stadiums. It is time for betting companies to realise there are real people on the other end of their profits who are actually dying, and the health service is struggling.

This is most obviously seen in the two top divisions of English football, with 10 of the 20 top flight clubs sporting a gambling company’s logo. And this gets even worse in the second division, with 17 out of 24 Championship sporting the logos of betting companies. These companies have taken true dominance of sponsorship in the top leagues of English football.

The head of mental health services in England, Claire Murdoch ,has expressed personal concern in a letter to five large UK gambling companies in which she calls for them to stop using predatory tactics that “turn the occasional flutter into a dangerous habit.”

The focus from betting companies on using promotional emails to make it seem as if you are going to win and win big each time you bet, is what is fuelling certain individuals addiction. Murdoch also expressed concerns that the companies know exactly who is suffering big losses and continue to send them these emails to reel them back in.

From personal experience, I know how pressing this can be. Sky Bet alone have sent me 11 emails this month, with numerous notifications from the app also appearing on my phone, with different offers of free bets, promotional odds, and upcoming big events, just keeping you in the loop.

Also, being a student with limited money, I used to resort to betting to try and make a bit more money and thought £5 a week was a reasonable amount, but after bet - ting consistently for over two years, I realised I’d kept depositing money whenever I’d lost a bet. So instead of actually losing £50 in one ten week term of uni, I’d lost £200. It seems bad knowing that now, but at the time winning one £30 bet could make me completely forget about all the money I’d lost.

This is because the problem with betting and gambling itself is that it is inherently irrational. Putting money on the likeliness of a certain result when you have no idea what it will actually be in an attempt to get more money off of it, makes no rational sense. The reason people keep betting is due to cognitive biases - a term which when applied to behavioural economics describing how a per - son’s psychology can cause them to behave irrationally once or continually, and this happens with betting.

For example, the positivity bias suggests that a memory of a positive occurrence, like winning a bet, can negate all memory of the negative outcomes. People get stuck in this vicious circle of a ‘surely I will win eventually’ mindset and don’t realise how much they have actually lost and the amount of money they have wasted trying to simply get back to square one.

For me, the problem was how easy and accessible betting actually was. Technology hasn’t helped with a plethora of sports betting apps now being able to download and you can deposit money instantly and have it placed in a bet within seconds.

They try and help by claiming that by setting deposit limits you can curb addiction and bet less, but when a person can simply take two seconds to go onto a different betting app and avoid this problem, nothing actually comes of this ‘limit’.

The moment I personally stopped betting was when I found myself betting on Azerbaijan U19 football matches to try and win back the £10 I had just lost on horse rac - ing. For me, betting was just a bit of fun to have at the weekend with my mates but even in the small amount I did, I can see the exact same behaviour which could lead people to dangerous addiction.

There was a huge thrill to it, and it was something I genuinely looked forward to in the week. I’d meet with my mates at the pub and everyone would have their various accumulators on. We’d wait for the results to roll in, all inevitably lose, then just get ready to do it all over again next week.

Betting companies need to be stopped in their constant pressing of promotions down people’s throats, even those who they know have lost big money.

The current situation we are in is one in which 340,000 people suffer from gambling addiction in the UK, 19 per cent of which have contemplated suicide. The government needs to look long and hard at the 2005 Gambling Act and fix this shameless business from ruining more people’s lives.

The final straw for me was the revelation that the founder and Executive Officer of Bet365, Denise Coates, paid herself £323m in 2018, while her company only donated a comparatively low $868,000 to organisation Gamble Aware. Its clear what the owners priorities are for their betting company.

Betting companies are preying on the irrationality of people with serious addiction. All for the pure purpose of more profit. With sports fans normally being the ones who are worst affected, the government needs to take action to regulate the level of sponsorship and promotions they can provide to stop reeling in those who are the most vulnerable to gambling's dangers.

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1 Comment

Carl Marsh Posted on Friday 14 Aug 2020

WOW this is so nice!

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