Interview: "The game’s gambling habit shows a failure of imagination in the business of football."

13 January 2021

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Photo: PA Images Stoke City playing West Ham back in 2018. Both teams had a betting company as main sponsor in that season.

As British football faces prospect of gambling sponsorship ban, leader of reform campaign argues game needs to stand up for its responsibilities.

"Football has normalised the gambling industry," says Big Step Campaign founder James Grimes.

Government review should treat gambling as a “public health issue”, with links to 650 suicides each year.

James Corbett corbett@offthepitch.com

When James Grimes talks about the human impact of football’s relationship with betting companies, he speaks from experience.

“I'm a recovering gambling addict myself,” he says. “I had a gambling addiction for 12 years that essentially destroyed every area in my life and took me to the brink. I got to a point where there was a life with gambling or no life, and fortunately I managed to stop it in 2018.”

In recovery he reflected on how he reached rock bottom and realised that football had become “just another gambling product”, luring him into and sustaining an addiction.

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