The Qatar World Cup is here and whether you are a season ticket holder or fair-weather fan, football brings people together. Those nail-biting 90 minutes are a time for unity, celebration and fun.
As friends gather to cheer on England’s squad from over 3,000 miles away, many fans at home are also grappling silently with a different, all-encompassing obsession: gambling.
Recent data released by GambleAware – the UK’s leading charity working to keep people safe from gambling harms – found that 43 per cent of football fans plan to bet during this year’s World Cup. A high, but perhaps not wholly surprising statistic. But if you consider that the majority (61 per cent) of football fans think that there are too many gambling adverts in international tournaments, and 39 per cent of fans who are likely to bet during the World Cup say that financial pressures may drive them to gamble more than they intended – there is certainly cause for concern.
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With the cost of living crisis and the sheer volume of matches and gambling promotions during the weeks ahead, football fans could be at an especially high risk of experiencing gambling harms this winter.
As an NHS psychiatrist who has worked with patients experiencing gambling harms, I have seen how they can affect anyone, no matter your background – not just financially, but in terms of mental health and many other impacts. And I’ve seen many people experience that sinking feeling of regret, stress and anxiety that people can experience after making an impulsive bet.