According to the Sporting Chance clinic, more needs to be done to resolve the ‘serious public health issue’ posed by problem gambling, after reporting that almost half of its customers are affected by gambling-related harm.
The charity told BBC Sport of its customers being treated for problem gambling that 60 percent of its patients are current professionals with cases that eclipse those treated for alcohol or drug addiction.
Former Arsenal captain Tony Adams, who is also the founder of the charity said: “Gambling has been an issue even stretching back to my playing days. But it seems to be the biggest issue now, more than alcohol.”
Sporting Chance is a registered British-based charity which, in addition to treatment and education services, provides specialist addiction and rehabilitation facilities for athletes.
Discussing the increasing number of athletes affected by problem gambling, Colin Bland, Chief Executive of Sporting Chance, explained that in order to protect against further avoidable harm, there must be meaningful reform.
He said: “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 acknowledged that demands from professional athletes for more education on the risks associated with gambling had increased.
The charity is said to be exploring their relationship with the industry with sports bodies, 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.”