It’s that time again; visited every four years by the World Cup, you get that feeling of communal solidarity. St George’s flags everywhere in England, it’s been a long time coming and the weather is beautiful. I find it’s a real burst of positivity throughout the country that I feel only Football brings. I’ve always been an avid football fan and I don’t think there’s anything quite like the uproar of a crowd as the ball finds itself in the back of the net. Sheer jubilation, a real emotional high where everyone’s on the same side, it really brings people together.
Alas, I can’t be happy with it all and I’m not talking about referees or poor offside calls. Whilst I love the sporting propaganda and embracing one’s nationality, I find that I’m becoming increasingly more aware of the culture of placing sporting bets. I’ve always been around it, my grandfather used to put a bet on every now and then as a football aficionado. He told my younger self it made the game more exciting. Though some years later I find myself becoming increasingly aware of its presence in modern society. I would like to note that I rarely partake in gambling but even I find myself interested in sporting odds. Out of interest in light of events I decided to download a generic gambling application from the App Store, totally forgetting that I had made a bet over two years ago on a horse race. I found recovering my account remarkably easy and I soon discovered that my debit card information was still on file ; unsurprised it dawned on me that this element of convenience was hugely troubling for someone that could potentially have an problem.
With this in mind I was certainly more attentive to the advertisements/commercials that appeared throughout the match that involved odds on every game going. All equally involving fantastic odds, especially to newcomers; whilst promoting the benefits of convenience and obviously driven on the potential profit. This constant belligerence of “advertising” seems completely unethical. Imagine if you had a serious problem. Companies can’t advertise for cigarettes anymore because it’s glamourising a habit that is ultimately damaging to your health. Gambling is no different but due to no direct correlation to the consequences and a focus on profit, it gets away with it. Im surprised it hasn’t been addressed on a larger scale.
Once upon a time when people had to go to a casino to gamble, it was the responsibility of the establishment to ban those whom considered to be suffering an addiction. As you can imagine this rarely happened, and of course occurred only when it was absolutely necessary or more accurately phrased ‘When it was too late’. It wasn’t much at all, but there was something albeit weak in place for someone who cannot exercise self restraint. The “convenience” element of the application allowing people to place bets impulsively also conveniently voids all responsibility to the venders. Push notifications have never been so aptly named, card hooked up and remembered. You’re ready to run yourself dry and give that credit rating a good kick-in.
In writing this, I have no plans or ideas to resolve it. I don’t even think it’s viable to take it off air because admittedly then you’d have to cut off most of the advertisements you find on television. McDonalds, alcohol and candy alike, before you know it we’d be North Korea. Okay, slight exaggeration but you see where I’m going with this. You could argue that it’s down to those who have the addiction to exercise self control and I agree, though I don’t find it fair that you can’t enjoy sport without someone poking you every break, or even the reminder on the scrolling sandwich board that you can place a cheeky little bet here and there especially whilst you’re in a vulnerable position because it’s ultimately an addiction, and it’s an addiction because you can’t exercise self control. If I ran an advertisement gently reminding pyromaniacs that arson is a viable recreational endeavour, I can’t imagine it would be allowed to air…