Gambling is a growing problem in the UK, and one that seems to be affecting people of all ages, background, and gender. However, it is becoming apparent that more and more sports stars are prone to problem gambling and addictions, with many getting treatment for their problems.
A recent study of teenagers in Israel found that those who were involved in sports teams were more likely to develop gambling problems. Moreover, while both male and female sports players are susceptible to gambling, it was found that gambling was more liable to develop into a problem for boys.
Dr Belle Gavriel-Fried, a researcher from the University of Tel Aviv, said that competitive athletes have a built-in desire to win, which is an intrinsic part of problem gambling.
The Dangers of Gambling
One such sports star who can appreciate the dangers of gambling is former Newcastle United footballer, Andy Ferrell. The ex-footballer was living the dream, but a gambling addiction saw him in prison after he found himself caught up with drug dealing in a bid to feed his gambling habit.
Ferrell admits that he only has himself to blame for the way his life turned out but has said he is doing everything he can to rebuild it.
Ferrell admitted that life as a professional footballer was a struggle, as he found himself with a lot of free time. He and another player, Michael Chopra, would pass the time by gambling. As young players, they would spend their wages in the amusement arcades but Ferrell admits that as he began to earn more money, he started to wager more. He says, “The more money I had, the more I would gamble.”
As soon as he would finish training, he would begin betting on the horses, admitting that he would get up during the night to visit casinos as well.
In 2004, Newcastle United released Ferrell, and his career was soon on a downward spiral. This downward spiral came with a drop in wages and Ferrell no longer had the same funds to feed his gambling habit.
When offered the chance to earn extra cash, he found that he could not resist, and he soon became caught up in a ring to supply illegal drugs on Tyneside. Ferrell’s addiction to gambling was all he could think about, and he did not consider the consequences of what he was doing.
In 2012, he was arrested and sent to prison for four years. While inside, he got help for his gambling addiction and is now trying to get his life back together.
He is of the opinion that football clubs should be doing more to help young players adapt to the lifestyle and pressures of playing professionally. He says, “There are a lot of people in sport with gambling problems, and I don’t think there’s enough help out there for young players.”
Ferrell believes that football academies should also be training footballers to achieve certain qualifications, and should run courses in the afternoons after training. He said, “Not everyone is going to make it as a footballer, and these kids miss out on things like going to college.”
Andy Ferrell is not the first person to find himself behind bars because of a gambling addiction that got out of control. If you or a loved one has an addiction to gambling, now is the time to get help. Addiction Helper is a free service working hard to put addicts in touch with suitable treatment providers in both the public and private sector. Call us today for information and advice on how we can help you.