01:00PM, Saturday 04 April 2020
Slough Town midfielder Scott Davies is hoping idleness, brought on by having to stay indoors because of the coronavirus, doesn’t lead to a rise in gambling addiction.
The Government’s stay home, save lives, advice is designed to keep people safe and healthy through the worst public health crisis the country has experienced in more than a hundred years.
But what of the unintended consequences of people having too much time on their hands and too little to do? And will people be tempted to use gambling as a quick fix for mounting financial problems if they arise?
Davies, who has plumbed the depths of gambling addiction himself and now works to prevent others from going down his path, is worried this could be the case. He is employed by a gambling harm minimisation consultancy and has come up with a couple of simple rules to prevent others from repeating his mistakes.
“A lot of people out there are struggling with this problem,” he said. “Especially at a time when we’ve all got far too much time on our hands.
“People are worried about their finances and may think that gambling is a good thing to turn to.
“They might see it as a quick fix but it could cause real problems.
“Keeping yourself entertained through this period is key. But I know there will be people who have signed up to play online betting games because they feel they’ve got nothing to do.
“And that’s dangerous because it’s just numbers on a computer screen.
“So it’s important for people to put limits on their accounts to ensure they’re betting within their means. Put down barriers so you can only lose say £20 a week, that’s manageable. But, at the same time, I worry for people who are gamblers because this could cause real destruction.”
Through his work for Epic Risk Management – a leading gambling harm minimisation consultancy in the UK – Davies regularly speaks with professional footballers at EFL clubs to tell his cautionary tale and warn them of the dangers of gambling. His fall from grace was a spectacular one that involved gambling away his deposit for a house - £30,000 – in 15 days, crashing his car while watching horse racing and sleeping in his car after football matches because he couldn’t afford the petrol money to get home.
Davies eventually got the help he needed through rehab at the Sporting Chance clinic and has rebuilt his life.
His motto is a problem shared is a problem halved and he wants to help as many people as possible get a handle on their gambling addiction.
He also believes more could be done to make gambling on sport safer for everyone, but urges everyone to exercise moderation and self control.
“I take full responsibility for how I used to gamble,” he said. “I can go down the pub and have a drink because I haven’t got a drinking problem.
“I’m just part of that small percentage that can’t play responsibly. It’s all about doing it in moderation, but my moderation quickly slipped out of control. I felt like I could beat the system and wanted to make sure I won the next bet.
“More could be done. You do see more adverts these days about gambling in moderation, but self responsibility is key.
“As is putting down barriers to say you can’t lose more than £20 a week which would be fine.
“It’s all about people taking responsibility.”
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