New whistle-to-whistle ban will help prevent addictive gambling

Question: going back a number of years, what linked darts and snooker? Answer: the Embassy World Championships.

Held in January and April respectively, both events attracted huge TV audiences. The prize money for its day was big, due mainly to the sponsorship.

Gambling can be as addictive as drinking and smoking

Gambling can be as addictive as drinking and smoking

Then Tony Blair arrived, the world changed, and by the turn of the century both tobacco and alcohol advertising was drastically reduced, and part of that legislation saw a ban of the sponsorship of sporting events.

Having lost significant funding, the two sports, and others, like cricket, had to find other income streams. More recently, this has come from the gambling sector.

Darts had a well-publicised split in the mid 1990s and the premier world competition now, played over most of December at the sold-out Ally Pally, is sponsored by Ladbrokes.

The firm bet365 also has a huge presence in sport, as do Betfred and many other companies.

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The current government has finally woken up and realised gambling can be as damaging as both cigarettes, alcohol and possibly even drugs.

Now, Britain’s biggest gambling companies have voluntarily agreed to a ‘whistle-to-whistle’ television advertising ban.

I’ve made no secret of the fact that in a dark time in my life I went and got help.

Part of that process included sitting in sessions with alcoholics and drug and gambling addicts. What goes on in the room stays in the room, but I think that, for some, gambling is every bit as addictive as drink and drugs.

Imagine if they legalised drugs and then cannabis and cocaine was extensively advertised? Quite rightly, it wouldn’t happen.

So why was something else that is addictive, gambling, allowed to become a huge part of our society?

With teenage gambling addiction figures at an all-time high, I wonder what they will make of it all when they come to write the history of the 21st century in a little over 80 years’ time.


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