Helping Those at Risk of Gambling Harm

It’s not the oh-so-wealthy players that have exclusive rights to developing gambling problems. Non-league footballer Lewis Carey has also had problems. The Lewes FC goalkeeper said he’s lost nearly £50,000 in casinos. However, he sought help and is now in recovery.

Professional footballers are three times more likely than other young men to develop a gambling addiction. The 28-year-old has now joined forces with Lewes FC to support a programme called Gambling with Lives.

His dream is to become a professional footballer and that put a lot of pressure on him. That led to him turning to gambling to escape that pressure. However, while gambling can be fun, it also led to more pressure as he lost a large amount of cash. He knew help was needed and he turned to six years of psychotherapy to help him battle his gambling problem.

The programme educates children aged from 11 to 16 about gambling. The project has been created by families who have seen relatives that committed suicide after having gambling problems. They certainly don’t want the pain they and their relatives have suffered to be experienced by others.

The Lewes FC goalkeeper said: “As a youngster, no-one warned me about the harm gambling can cause. If someone I felt I could relate to had done so, it would have made a big difference to my life and that’s where this programme comes in.”

His story about how gambling affected him will be instantly recognizable to those who have also had problems. “It took control of me and I couldn’t do anything about it without professional help. It would take away my anxiety from football and I can’t describe the escapism it gave me.

“I was carrying everyone’s hopes and dreams of being a professional footballer. I just didn’t really want to be here anymore, and I was just lucky that I had a real close family that found me at my lowest point and helped me back to where I am today.”

2019 saw Lewes FC wear shirts that had the logo ‘Gambling with Lives’ on their front. The club has previously stated that gambling sponsorship has reached saturation point. That was a couple of years ago and plenty more deals have been signed since.

James Grime is the head of education at Gambling With Lives. He believes that football is “so often the hook that draws young people into gambling.” Therefore, his view is that raising awareness of gambling harm at a young age is important rather than “just waiting for the harm to occur.”