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Volume 7 No. 149
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Study Reveals 'Dire Consequences' Of 'Gamblification'

Odds are displayed inside Norwich City's Carrow Road for the club's match against Sheffield United.
Photo: GETTY IMAGES

The "relentless involvement of betting companies in football" has drawn a generation of young men into "strongly associating their support for the game with gambling," leading to "dire consequences" for many, a study found, according to David Conn of the London GUARDIAN. The explosion in marketing and sponsorship since the last Labour government deregulated gambling in '05, combined with the "ease of online betting via smartphones," has resulted in the "gamblification" of watching football, according to research conducted by Dr. Darragh McGee of the University of Bath. McGee spent two years "working closely with two groups of football supporters aged 18-35 in Bristol and Derry," recording their gambling habits in depth, in a research project funded by the British Academy. His findings "include some of the young men telling him they can no longer watch a football match unless they have multiple bets;" commonly they have up to 25 accounts with online gambling companies, and their football conversations with mates "are all about betting, rather than the game." Participants said that the gambling companies' marketing "is extremely effective," particularly the offers of "free" bets, and that their losses "did not feel like real money because they are placed so casually on a phone and no longer involve going to a bookmaker’s shop." One told McGee the "buzz" of gambling is "up there with sex and drugs and rock’n’roll." That supporter said, "And I think because of that, gambling is the worst addiction of the lot." As McGee came to know the groups, he "found the intensity of the online gambling culture in football has had catastrophic impacts on many of the participants." He said, "In particular, for young men who find themselves deprived of viable routes to employment opportunities, gambling promises an alternative route to wealth, social capital and masculine affirmation, yet most end up ensnared in a cycle of indebtedness." McGee welcomes the proposed whistle-to-whistle advertising ban as "a step in the right direction" but said, "A generation of young people already view gambling as a normalized part of sport" (GUARDIAN, 1/10).