Are elite sportsmen and women more prone to gambling problems?
Could that that drive to win, the refusal to be beaten and supreme self-belief which makes an elite athlete also lead them into trouble. After all, one of the big determinates of gambling problems is if someone keeps gambling to try to win their money back to keep chasing their losses. This refusal to be beaten by the bookies can result in real problems for gamblers.
Then there is the issue surrounding the ease of access to gambling platforms via mobile technology. I don’t think anybody would disagree that it’ far easier and quicker to gamble online than it used to be. It’s also far easier to hide the issue when you can gamble alone on a phone or tablet.
Perhaps the more worrying thought is, because of the ease of access, are young sportsmen and women particularly susceptible to gambling. Certainly it was a reason offered by one high profile young player last year. Related to that, is the sponsorship of sport by betting companies having an effect on the athletes that wear the betting logos and whose employers more often than not have their own betting partners?
With a rise in the number of betting companies and ways and markets to bet on, is sport and the betting industry doing enough to promote responsible gambling and to educate athletes about the risks involved?
In order to answer these questions, the Professional Players Federation (PPF) has commissioned new research on how the gambling habits of professional sportsmen compare to the wider population as well as detailing players’ views on how sports sponsorship by betting companies affects them.
The results of this research will be launched at our conference on Problem Gambling and Sport, which is being held at Edgbaston Cricket Club on 3 December 2014. The one day conference is aimed at sport staff that work with elite athletes, particularly on the welfare side. It will examine best practice and hear from leading experts on how best to educate athletes about responsible gambling; how to identify players with problems and encourage them to seek help; and look at the most effective treatment options.
The day will include the powerful testimonies of current and former athletes from a range of sports about the impact of gambling problems on their sporting performance and personal life. We will consider whether there were any warning signs and if sport needs to do more to look after its players, particularly at times of high stress.
There will be expert advice from Gamcare, the Sporting Chance Clinic and also the National Problem Gambling Clinic on all the issues as well as the chance for audience interaction on each session.
We will hear from the player associations that deliver education to athletes about how best to get the key messages across and how it differs for different age groups.
We are delighted that Radio 5 Live will be hosting one of the sessions for broadcast in December with the excellent Eleanor Oldroyd asking the questions and getting to the core of the issues in a wide ranging panel discussion on problem gambling.
The event is sponsored by the Responsible Gambling Trust and run in partnership with LPP Consulting.
Simon Taylor, General Secretary, Professional Players Federation