Former Nottingham Forest goalkeeper Peter Shilton has launched a campaign to kick gambling adverts out of football.
The “Shilton Shirt Gambling Ban”, which the former England goalkeeper set up alongside his wife Steph, aims to introduce legislation to prevent gambling adverts from appearing on football shirts.
Speaking exclusively to CBJSpotlight, Steph Shilton said: “I likened the illness to that of drug abuse. They will do anything to feed the habbit. But, it’s so hidden.”
“If you’re in a room with a 100 people and there is an alcoholic in there, chances are you’re going to spot the alcoholic. But, you cannot tell me who the gambler is.”
“We’re looking at one or two people a day dying as a result. But it’s not just the addict. It’s the lives of those around them. The gambling companies take no responsibility.”
“A survey found that, for every gambling addict, up to 10 people were affected. You’re looking at millions of people. It takes years for families to recover. I’ve had women write to me saying that their husbands are in prison because they’ve committed fraud. And then all of a sudden, their house is about to repossessed and they might have children at home.”
“We’re looking at one or two people dying a day”
Shilton, who won two European Cups and one League Title during his time at the City Ground, revealed last year that he suffered from a gambling addiction for decades.
“It was nobody’s fault. It could have been a whole host of factors. He could have had the addiction gene. Was it because he was addicted to highs; at the age of 15, he was going out into football stadiums. It does not matter,” said Steph.
“GP’s are not educated about the addiction. It’s only now been deemed a clinical addiction. To try and get Pete to stand in front of a room and talk about his addiction would have been impossible. But he would have gone to a GP – he would have spoken more freely.”
“We’re involved with the NHS Addiction clinics. There will be 11 set up around the country. Three have already been successfully opened in the North. They cannot come quick enough.”
Figures released last summer suggest that up to 50,000 children are now hooked on gambling, with over 300 adults committing suicide annually.
James Grimes, founder of The Big Step, discusses his challenges with gambling.
James Grimes, a recovering gambling addict himself, founded The Big Step in 2019 to campaign and educate about the dangers of gambling within football.
“I spent 12 years with a gambling addiction. It took me to the brink. I realised that my way in was because of the close relationship between football and gambling.”
“I’m not just saying this. I am lucky to be here. I know the pain that it brings. When we see slogans such as ‘When the Fun Stops, Stop’, there is some people who will not stop. Their stop is taking there own life.”
“That’s how powerful these products are, and how predatory these practices are. People are losing their children.”
“You must take a public health approach. In-play football betting, these online casino’s. It highly addictive. That’s what needs to be targeted.”
🗣️ Make your voice heard.
⚽️ Help us kick gambling ads out of football.
— The Big Step (@the_bigstep) January 30, 2021
“Education is needed as well. But, it just can’t be about responsible gambling. You shouldn’t be telling 15 year-old’s that you can just set your limits. We should have the same approach as tobacco. And then they will know there will be severe risks when undertaking online gambling.”
There has been calls for Prime Minister Boris Johnson to intervene and introduce legislation to ban gambling promotions on shirts. This would overturn parts of the legislation introduced by the previous Labour government who, under Tony Blair, passed the 2005 Gambling Act.
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