Sky Bet, a leading betting firm in the United Kingdom, has contracted with Epic Risk Management to sensitize players across the English leagues that it sponsors about the possible harms of gambling. Epic Risk Management, an independent harm minimization consultancy firm in the United Kingdom and Ireland, will run the program across the clubs playing in the Championship, League 1 and League 2, especially those sponsored by the betting firm.
The program is set to launch at the beginning of next season. There are exceptions, however. Birmingham City, Carlisle United, Norwich City, Accrington, Brentford, Lincoln City, Oldham Athletic Portsmouth and Newport County will start their programs before the leagues begin in August.
What the training entails
The training is apparently not new. As a matter of fact, Epic has successfully carried out similar training in the past with giant clubs, such as Chelsea FC, Rugby Players Association, and the Professional Cricketers Association, and had tremendously positive results.
The training designed for the program by Sky Bet will include major stakeholders in the clubs, from the individual players to the staff. Additionally, it will also incorporate other active participants in professional football, who will help identify players or staff who might require the services.
Sky Bet aims to educate the players how to acknowledge the possible risks that may result from gambling activities and the rules and regulations that govern the betting industry, as well as the personal integrity of the players. The training will also assist the players to identify possible signs and symptoms, making it easy to identify affected teammates.
Richard Flint, Sky Bet’s CEO, noted that gambling has gradually become an activity that players equally engage in just like those outside the pitch. As a gesture of its willingness as a company to curtail the negative effects this could have on the players, his company would spend €1 million to hold the training session. This is part of the company’s initiative to ensure safe gambling practices as it renews its contract that will see it remain a main sponsor of the three EFL leagues. Flint added that financing such a noble activity for every single club will go a long way in guaranteeing gambling values are upheld among players.
Supporting research findings
It is worth noting that professional players are more exposed to gambling problems compared with other punters. Recent research conducted by the Professional Players Federation shows that people who engage in sports at a professional level are three times more likely to experience problems associated with gambling compared with others. Paul Buck, CEO of Epic, seems to agree with the findings. Buck affirmed that his company would work tirelessly with Sky Bet to make sure these cases are significantly reduced. He further expressed confidence in the program, saying it is just what is needed to effectively tackle these problems.
Meanwhile, the English Football League has lauded the initiative by Sky Bet, saying it is the perfect approach to ensuring responsible gambling. Shaun Harvey, the league’s CEO, expressed that gambling should not just be viewed as an avenue to earn money. Rather, he said, it should add to the experience of match day.
With the program in place, EFL club players and staff will hopefully benefit from it. And, with any luck, there will be a positive change in the approach toward gambling in the coming years. The comments by Harvey come barely a month after Senet Group removed restrictions on its phrase “When the Fun stops, stop” This will allow more gambling control agencies to adopt it in their campaigns, thus increasing its impact on targeted gamblers.
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