A 28-year from Manchester is leading a campaign which is encouraging English football clubs to be aware of the dangers of gambling addictions. James Grimes, 28, is a recovering gambler who has now managed to stay away from it for almost a year.
The programme is aimed at ensuring local football clubs are engaged with the risks surrounding their sponsors and encouraging them to review their relationships with the gambling companies. The Big Step Challenge, involves meeting 9 different football clubs in the Manchester area that are currently being sponsored by gambling operators, starting at the Etihad Stadium and finishing at Old Trafford.
Grimes has explained that the challenge was inspired by his awareness of the issues exposure to gambling can cause from such a young age, as well as his personal experience of problem gambling. The UK gambling Commission, the UKGC, defines problem gambling as behaviour associated with gambling which can cause harm to both people who gamble as well as their family and friends.
The 2018 Gambling participation report for the UK revealed that around 0.7% of respondents were problem gamblers, 2.7% said they feel guilty about their gambling and 3.1% of them have bet more than they can afford.
Although there are 430,00 adults in the UK with a gambling issue, there is also issues of around 55,000 youngsters aged between 11-16 with a similar issue. There have also been studies which have shown that people with a gambling problems are 15 times more likely to commit suicide.
UK based football clubs have been criticised about their close relationships with the gambling industry for many years as many of them have even been using gambling operators as their main kit sponsors.
Anti-gambling campaigners believe that these types of sponsorships send the wrong messages to young children as well as to other, more vulnerable people. The campaigners believe that the sponsorships making them feel that gambling is a regular, ordinary activity which Is heavily related to the sport that for many of them, is their entire life.
The Big Step Challenge is intending to make more youngsters and football fans aware of the dangers surrounding gambling fans. It also aims to raise money for the Gambling with Lives Charity, an organisation set up by families of those who have sadly committed suicide as a result of their gambling addiction.