Engagement between lower division football clubs and safer gambling organisations continues to increase, as a National League fixture on Tuesday was host to a number of charity delegates.
A range of groups were invited to attend the match at Chesterfield FC’s Technique Stadium, including GamCare and the Young Gamers and Gamblers Education Trust (YGAM)- represented by Head of Delivery Sam Starsmore and Education Manager Jimmy Parkin – as well as Mentell, the British Red Cross and Derbyshire County Council Public Health.
Daniel Bliss, Director of External Affairs at YGAM, said: “This was a really important matchday initiative from the club and we were delighted to be part of it. It is crucial we all work together to raise awareness of the clear links between gambling harms and poor mental health.
“There will be many people struggling in silence so highlighting the support that is available is vital. If last night’s match inspires someone to reach out to talk about their mental health and access the support they need, it will be a good result.”
YGAM and other groups used the opportunity to promote their gambling addiction and responsible gambling treatment services, distributing leaflets and engaging with supporters to ‘highlight the links between poor mental health and gambling addiction’.
GamCare also worked to promote its TalkBanStop initiative, which it operates in cooperation with GAMSTOP and GamBan to promote the organisations’ combined tools and services to the UK general public.
“I’d like to extend a huge thank you to the Spireite Trust for working with us on the gambling awareness initiative,” remarked Greg Stenson, Public Health Service Development Officer at Derbyshire County Council.
“Gambling is often termed as the ‘hidden’ addiction, therefore it makes identifying and having a conversation with a close friend or relative extremely difficult. Engaging with supporters of all ages and backgrounds before the game, and promoting support services, is integral to our public health approach in minimising gambling-related harm.”
A severing of ties between football clubs and betting companies has been long-touted as a likely outcome of the 2005 Gambling Act review, with reports in September suggesting that the government will enforce a ban on Premier League teams from maintaining betting sponsor partners.
Some lower league clubs have already begun to cut their links with the industry – notably, in the aftermath of initial reports two months ago, former Betfred, 188Bet and William Hill partner Bolton Wanderers announced it would no longer sign deals with operators, instead opting to form relationships with gambling treatment charities.
Meanwhile, the Big Step programme – an anti-gambling advertising campaign operated by Gambling with Lives – has formed partnerships with Scottish lower league club Edinburgh City and English League Two side Forest Green Rovers.