FOOTBALL AND GAMBLING have an interesting relationship, and at times it must be conceded that it’s not an altogether harmonious one. The two activities seem inextricably bound, but is this connection good, bad or just plain ugly?
Purists might well argue that appreciation of, and participation in, the beautiful game should not be sullied by any sort of monetary motives at all. Appreciation of good clean competition, graceful play and so on should be the only things that are important.
The reality is though that it’s never going to be that pure because money makes the world go round, and regardless of what one thinks of the high salaries of players, the phenomenon is a response to a global market and is really just capitalism doing what it always does: high value for high demand, very high value for very high demand.
Besides, isn’t the whole essence of any game the risk and the gamble? Isn’t the appeal of any competition, whether football, cricket, darts or a gentle game of bowls, the potential risk and rewards involved? The underlying psychological motive of players and spectators surely harks back to that hunter-gatherer age when we had to take risks to get rewards and expose ourselves to danger to get a nourishing meal.
This means that we shouldn’t be surprised that gambling always accompanies football and we should be less surprised still that some of the most well-known players love to gamble. In fact this can be a positive thing.
There is an astounding number of bookmakers and online casinos sponsoring the game now and that means no shortage of financial support for clubs. It’s a symbiotic relationship really; the clubs need the sponsors and the sponsors need the clubs. In fact, what happens is that the more successful and exciting a season a club has the more action the bookmakers and casinos will attract, which in turn will further fund the clubs and promote the action. This explains in part why you’ve got major names such as InterCasino growing in profile and flourishing at the moment.
Of course, like everything in life, some regulation is required to keep things on the straight and narrow. This is why not so long ago the FA outlawed any kind of gambling at all on games, or any aspect of football, by players. Indeed the law even extends to ground staff. Is this a step too far? Possibly, but it must be admitted that it’s not as though there aren’t plenty of other outlets for players’ gambling and it does keep the game clean. Again this is where the online casinos come into their own because whether it’s a little round of roulette on an app or a session of online poker, there’s that gambling buzz in a convenient package.
There will always be a difficult transitional period with any change in regulations, which is why Joey Barton was fined and banned from football for 17 months last year. Overall though the inevitable relationship between football and gambling is being well handled at the moment and the overall picture is a healthy one, for players, spectators and the game itself