Judge Accuses Betting Companies of Being Leeches

There are many who are against the sponsoring of televised sporting events by betting companies. One appears to be Judge Geoffrey Miller QC who was extremely vocal at Downpatrick Crown Court in Ireland on October 13.

The judge was making comments when sentencing Michael McBurney. He had pleaded guilty to 21 charges of fraud by false representation. The 39-year-old from Mourne Rise in Newcastle, Co Down, is a recovering gambling addict. Over £13,000 had been defrauded by McBurney and most of that was used at online gambling sites.

His “comment from the bench” saw him say that he finds it “iniquitous that every sporting event on TV seems to be sponsored by one or other of these betting agencies which quite frankly leech monies from people who really find their lives very much diminished”.

Of course, his statement that “every sporting event” is sponsored by a betting company is totally inaccurate. He must have missed the snooker events sponsored by Cazoo or the Six Nations Rugby sponsored by Guinness. At least the judge wasn’t under oath.

The judge described addictions as “a destructive” force. He will no doubt therefore be a supporter of the moves to ban betting companies from sponsoring sports team.

The reason McBurney committed his offences was due to his gambling addiction according to the judge. He sentenced McBurney to a 12-month jail term but suspended it for two years. £1,000 was ordered to be paid as compensation.

His acts of fraud had been committed using the stolen details of a bank card. A probation report had said that McBurney had been taking part in programmes to help him deal with his addictions.

Hopefully, he will be able to turn his life around just like Mark Young from Southend. Eight years ago, he was sleeping rough and if he did find a home to sleep in, it tended to be on one sofa after another.

He was struggling with a gambling addiction and also having problems with drugs and alcohol. The only way was up, and he sought help from a charity called HARP. The 61-year-old spent over 18 months with them, and he’s now moved into a new home. They gave him help with claiming Universal Credit, GP appointments and counselling sessions. All things he’d have struggled to do without their help.

“Without help from HARP, I’d still be bouncing about, rough sleeping, sofa surfing and sleeping here, there and everywhere,” he said. “Life would be rough and getting rougher. I was getting really tired of it all.”