Carshalton Athletic has announced its support for The Big Step’s campaign to end all gambling advertising and sponsorship in football, joining the likes of Tranmere Rovers, Dulwich Hamlet, Edinburgh City, Forest Green Rovers, Billericay Town and Lewes.
Despite playing in the Isthmian League Premier Division, which is sponsored by a gambling company, the Robins are calling for this ban to protect the thousands of young people involved in their community initiatives.
Paul Dipre, owner of Carshalton Athletic said:
“Gambling companies sponsor grassroots leagues for commercial reasons only – they want to encourage more people to take up gambling – there is no other motive. In my opinion, there is no place for this type of sponsorship in grassroots football. “
Gambling advertising is rife in football, with recent research finding that gambling brands can appear more than 700 times during a single televised football match
Tragically, there are an estimated 250–650 gambling-related suicides in the UK each year, with those addicted to gambling up to 15 times more like to take their own lives than members of the general population. There are between 430,000 and 1.2 million people addicted to gambling the UK, including at least 55,000 children.
Our campaign has already won the support of several MPs, including Ronnie Cowan of the Scottish National Party, together with Labour’s Paul Blomfield, Zarah Sultana and Dawn Butler. Tranmere Rovers and Swansea City also work proactively with The Big Step, helping to raise awareness of gambling harms in their communities.
James Grimes, Founder of The Big Step who was addicted to gambling for 12 years said:
“We applaud this bold stance taken by Paul and the club and thank them for putting their young fans over profit.
“Football is often the ‘hook’ that draws young, first-time gamblers in, many of whom are then cross-sold highly addictive and dangerous online casino and slots games – and Carshalton are helping to prevent this by saying no gambling ads.”
Carshalton Athletic’s announcement comes at a time when football’s relationship with gambling is under increased scrutiny, with the Government exploring the possibility of a ban on gambling shirt sponsorship as part of the review of the 2005 Gambling Act. Paul Merson’s recent BBC One documentary highlighted the link between footballers and gambling addiction and reported that professional footballers are three times more likely to suffer from gambling addiction than other young men.