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GambleAware launches gambling harms prevention campaign to ensure football fans are protected during the international tournament and cost-of-living crisis

14th Nov 2022 Sarah Evans

GambleAware launches gambling harms prevention campaign to ensure football fans are protected during the international tournament and cost-of-living crisis

GambleAware's new campaign underlines the message that 'gambling harms can affect anyone' and is backed by the Football Supporters Association (FSA), as well as former players including Peter Shilton, Shaun Wright-Phillips and Lee Hendrie.

‘Perfect storm’ of gambling harms could hit football fans this winter, as charity reveals six in ten football fans think there are too many gambling promotions in international tournaments

  • The majority (61%) of football fans say there are too many gambling ads in the World Cup and other international tournaments, according to a new survey from Opinium of 2,000 fans.
  • Meanwhile, among those likely to bet on the World Cup, 39% say that financial pressures may drive them to gamble more than they intended.
  • GambleAware has launched a new campaign to help football fans who gamble avoid ‘Bet Regret’ over coming weeks; from setting money or time limits, to deleting apps.
  • The campaign is backed by the Football Supporters Association (FSA) and well-known former players including Peter Shilton, Shaun Wright-Phillips and Lee Hendrie.
  • Peter Shilton, who experienced gambling harms for 45 years, is supporting the campaign and delivers a powerful ‘team talk’ to help fans stay in control during the upcoming tournament as he reflects on his own experience of gambling harm.

Football fans could be hit by an increase in gambling harms this winter, a leading British charity has warned ahead of the upcoming international tournament. GambleAware has launched a new campaign to ensure fans are protected during the ongoing cost-of-living crisis and significant hype around the international tournament.

Six in ten football fans (61%) agree that there are too many gambling ads during the World Cup and other international tournaments, with betting promotions on social media and television set to increase during the tournament over the weeks ahead. 

Meanwhile, nearly three in ten (28%) football fans admit to feeling anxious about how much they might lose whilst betting during the World Cup, with more than half of fans (56%) saying that it is easy to lose more money than expected. 

In response, GambleAware has joined forces with the Football Supporters Association (FSA) and well-known former footballers to raise awareness of the early warning signs of gambling harms. The charity is also offering fans practical advice on how to enjoy the tournament without experiencing ‘Bet Regret’ – the universal ‘sinking feeling’ that people may experience after making an impulsive bet, often when drunk, bored or chasing losses.

Zoë Osmond, Chief Executive of GambleAware, said: “This should be an enjoyable time for all football fans, but with the sheer volume of football and the amount of betting ads, it can be easy to get carried away with betting – and we can see that many fans are already feeling anxious about this. As the cost of living-crisis bites and people feel the pinch in the run-up to Christmas, this could create a ‘perfect storm’ where fans resort to gambling as a way to cope. This can have the opposite effect, both financially and in terms of mental health. There are lots of ways to avoid 'Bet Regret’ – the sinking feeling you get after making a bet you wish you hadn't – from deleting apps, to setting a limit. These steps can help fans enjoy the football this winter without feeling stress or anxiety around gambling.”

Gambling Minister Paul Scully said: "I welcome this campaign from GambleAware to help raise awareness of practical actions people can take to avoid gambling-related harms. We are undertaking the most comprehensive review of gambling laws in 15 years to ensure they are fit for the digital age, including considering the evidence on gambling advertising and marketing."

Minister for Primary Care and Public Health Neil O’Brien said: “The impacts of harmful gambling are stark and widespread – it affects people’s savings, relationships and health of both gamblers and those close to them.

“Ahead of the World Cup, this campaign is an important way to highlight early warning signs of harmful gambling, provide advice and give people the tools they need to stop high-risk gambling in its tracks.

“More widely, we are working to protect vulnerable people from the damaging impacts gambling can have, including through providing specialist NHS gambling addiction clinics across the country, as part of our investment of an extra £2.3 billion a year by 2024 to expand mental health services.”

Major international sporting events are usually associated with a spike in gambling, with 43% of football fans planning to bet during this year’s tournament. But this time, the tournament comes as the nation faces steeply rising living costs, at a time of year that already sees increased spending in preparation for Christmas. These circumstances can create a ‘perfect storm’ that increases gambling and the resulting harms: among those likely to bet on the World Cup, 39% say that wider financial pressures (including living costs and Christmas) may drive them to gamble more money than they intended.

To launch the campaign, GambleAware has released a new film featuring footballing legend, Peter Shilton, who delivers a ‘team talk’. Peter Shilton, former professional footballer, said: “I had a gambling addiction for 45 years. This addiction not only took a massive toll on me financially, but on my mental wellbeing. If it wasn’t for my wonderful wife, Steph, for her support, I don’t know where I would be today. I’ve seen first-hand how easy it can be to get carried away and place an impulsive bet, especially when betting promotions are all around you. I’d urge everyone to stop and think, is my gambling out of control? If so, reach out for support."

NHS doctor, Dr Max Pemberton said: “As a psychiatrist who has worked with patients experiencing gambling harms, I know just how quickly a seemingly innocent betting habit can escalate into an acute problem. Not only do we see people silently slipping into financial difficulty, but also experiencing serious mental health issues. Gambling harms can affect anyone, so if you find yourself losing track of time, spending more than you can afford, or betting in secret, you can take action now. Setting limits and deleting gambling apps are effective ways to stay in control, and you can also visit for further free, confidential advice and support.”

The campaign is being supported by media companies, to aid the prevention of gambling harms during the tournament. Broadcasters including Sky, BT, ITV and Channel 4 have donated £1.5 million of free advertising inventory to GambleAware.

Previous analysis has found that almost £1.5 billion was spent on advertising (including direct online marketing, marketing affiliates, TV advertising, social media promotions and sponsorship) by gambling companies in 2017. Since then, the gambling industry has implemented a whistle-to-whistle ban on gambling advertising and committed at least 20% of TV and radio advertising to safer gambling messaging. 

Anyone concerned about their gambling, or that of a loved one, can visit for free, confidential advice and support, or The National Gambling Helpline is available on 0808 8020 133 and operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

For more information, or to request an interview with any of the following, please contact:

Notes to Editors:

The campaign also has the backing of the Scottish Football Supporters Association (SFSA) and Supporters Direct Scotland.

For any additional campaign assets, see link here

Additional quotes:

Malcolm Clarke, Chair of the Football Supporters' Association, said: "This upcoming tournament is very different for many reasons and one of those is the way we'll watch it as supporters back home. While most summer tournaments see millions of fans watching at outdoor events and in beer gardens, that won't be the case for Qatar 2022.

"With so much brilliant football on TV, supporters will spend a lot of time watching games from the comfort of their own sofa - and that's when the temptation to gamble impulsively can kick in for some. Practical steps like deleting apps or setting bet limits can help and we'd also encourage fans to speak to GambleAware if they think they have a problem."

Former Aston Villa and England midfielder Lee Hendrie, who has previously spoken out about his experience of gambling harm, is also backing the campaign. Lee said: “When it comes to betting, I know how gambling can affect and harm people – I’ve seen how it can turn the lives of others upside down due to the impact additions can have on mental health. The upcoming tournament should be a time for football fans to come together and celebrate the beautiful game. It’s not a time for losing your hard-earned money by chasing losses. If  you’re struggling, please know that you are not alone, you can search GambleAware for free tips and advice. Help is always available, and make sure you check in with your friends 
and family.”

Opinium conducted an online survey with a nationally representative sample of 2,000 British football fans from Tuesday 18th October to Tuesday 25th October 2022. 

Voice of those with lived experience of gambling harms
David Quinti (48):

David started gambling by placing bets on football and he gambled for over ten years. His gambling became all-consuming and he kept it a secret for a long time, due to shame and stigma. The toll this had on his mental health led him to seek support from the National Gambling Helpline and Beacon Counselling Trust and he is now committed to supporting others through his roles as a Trustee for the GLEN Network (and an Ambassador for GamCare.

Steve Ramsey (56):
Steve has always big a football fan and he started placing bets on large sporting tournaments when he turned 18. After experiencing personal hardship, he turned to gambling as a way to feel better. He exhausted all his savings and was stealing money from his employer to finance his gambling. This impacted his mental health heavily and after contemplating suicide, he decided to turn himself in and seek help. He now works with the EPIC Restart Foundation to help others with gambling harms.

About GambleAware

  • GambleAware is the leading charity (Charity No. England & Wales 1093910, Scotland SC049433) working to keep people safe from gambling harms. As lead commissioner, we deliver education, prevention and treatment services for gambling harms in Great Britain. 
  • Every year, we lead major public health campaigns and fund access to free confidential treatment and support for nearly 12,000 people and over 41,000 calls to the National Gambling Helpline. Anyone experiencing harm can visit or call the National Gambling Helpline on 0808 8020 133. 
  • We work in close collaboration with the NHS, clinicians, local and national government, gambling treatment providers, as well as other services like mental health, services for people who use drugs and alcohol and harm reduction services and criminal justice, to ensure that the whole system works together to help people suffering from gambling harms.
  • Research from our Annual GB Treatment and Support Survey 2021 shows that one in 10 people who gamble are at risk of experiencing gambling harms. Gambling can harm people and their families financially, psychologically and physically. GambleAware works in close collaboration with leading organisations and experts including the NHS, government, local authorities and gambling treatment providers, to ensure that people get the information, support and treatment they need.
  • GambleAware is a commissioner of independent evidence-informed prevention and treatment services in partnership with expert organisations and agencies across Great Britain, with over £56 million of funding under active management