“I bet you didn’t know this”

At long last sports teams are waking up to the very real dangers of online sports gambling and gambling addiction.

According to a recent report by Caytoo, British sports teams are turning down the mega sponsorship dollars they’ve always received from gambling firms. They’ve also cut down on the amount of sponsorship money they’ll take from gambling’s evil cousin, alcohol.

I’m not sure how or why, but compulsive gambling has somehow flown under the media’s radar as society has awakened to the need for societal change at all levels.

But gambling’s pernicious impact should not be underestimated. The Caytoo report said one percent of adults identify as compulsive gamblers. That may not sound like much, but one percent of 300 million Americans amounts to three million souls. And, get this, SIX to NINE percent of children say they’re addicted.

Happily, gambling’s precipitous decline in the British sports establishment is akin to having a very bad night in a Vegas casino. In just two years, gambling’s sponsorship of rugby, soccer and cricket has been cut in half from 15.1 percent of all major sponsorship bucks to just over 8 percent this year.

And if it’s happening in the UK, you can bet the house that US sports teams will be pressured to follow suit. And Caytoo cites four reasons why…

  • 50 percent of compulsive gamblers commit crimes.
  • Families where a parent gambles compulsively are more likely to experience domestic violence, including child abuse.
  • Over 80 percent of problem gamblers were at risk for alcohol or drug use dependency.
  • More than 60 percent of compulsive gamblers said they wanted help, but only 25 percent actually sought assistance.

I take these statistics personally because I lost a beloved uncle to compulsive gambling. The guy was addicted to betting on baseball and the horses. And he’d gamble the full amount of each paycheck on one or both sports. Needless to say, it didn’t take long for him to lose his shirt, turn to drinking to ease the pain, ask his siblings for financial support and end up dying a lonely, penniless and broken man.

Sports gambling is evil. It killed my uncle. And while it may not kill a member of your family or circle of friends, it can trigger all sorts of other calamities.
So three cheers for the British sporting establishment in forcing gambling companies to spend their ill-gotten gains somewhere else. I just hope our country’s sports franchises do the same thing. And soon!

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