Former goalkeeper David James has urged football fans to “think twice” before gambling.
The 49-year-old, who is currently starring in BBC’s Strictly Come Dancing, made the comments after joining a team of ex-England internationals for the final match of the Bet Regret Cup, an event organised by gambling charity BeGambleAware.
As part of the event, football teams from across the UK battled one another throughout the summer. The event ended with the final Bet Regret Cup match held last Sunday (August 4) in Shoreditch.
In an interview with the Press Association at the final match of the event, James was asked about the rising concern of gambling advertisements and sponsorships and their link towards mental health and gambling addictions.
He replied: “You only need to watch any live game, or any live sport, especially on the satellite channels and the gambling companies are advertising 30 seconds before kick-off, every half-time.
They’re doing it for a reason. it is business, it’s legal, so there’s no question about that but for the people who indulge in a bit of gambling then it’s more about the importance of understanding when to stop. That moment when you think ‘I shouldn’t have done that’, that sinking feeling, you don’t want people to get to that stage.”
He continued: “We talk about boredom, being drunk and chasing losses. I think the drinking one is always relevant because a lot of lads will go down their local pubs and clubs to watch games of football and it’s so easy to get drawn into that regrettable bet. It’s a message that needs to be out there.
“Supermarkets advertise things on television every day but it doesn’t mean you have to go out and buy them, there is a responsibility of the individual to make the decision whether or not they have a bet. If the adverts are good, it does look attractive, but it’s not about whether you bet or not, it’s about controlling yourself, thinking twice.”
The news comes after several sports player associations stated that gambling is one of the biggest mental health challenges in the United Kingdom. The Rugby Players Association (RPA), the Professional Footballers’ Association (PFA) and the Professional Cricketers’ Association (PCA) all expressed concern over the psychological impact of gambling on sportspeople.
Meanwhile, a new study from the University of Warwick discovered that the ‘When the fun stops, stop’ warning on gambling ads does not prevent people from gambling. The researchers also found that gamblers exposed to the warning actually gambled more than those who were not.
Three weeks ago, Irish bookmaker Paddy Power announced its Save Our Shirts campaign which calls for an end to football shirt sponsorships. The sportsbook has already announced five football clubs as part of its campaign, which sees the firm remove its branding from jerseys.