The betting industry’s relationship with sports is intrinsic to its operations, but remains controversial, especially with regards to the possibility of gambling related harm for both athletes and consumers. 

Speaking via video link at the Betting on Sports Europe (BOSE) event earlier this year,  Tyrone Allen, Director of the PAF, NFL Players Association (NFL PA), emphasised the importance of a ‘holistic approach’ to safer gambling. 

“It’s not that much different from someone who is recovering from substance misuse or some sort of depression or anxiety. I think you do need that holistic approach, you’re going to need programmes and resources. 

“We have the in-paitent facilities for those with behavioral and mental health issues – we may need something like that here in regards to gambling addiction, because it is serious.”

Finding common ground with Allen was Steve Embersen, Genius Sports’ Integrity Director, who pointed to his own experience with England’s FA. He detailed how he had often dealt with former players who encountered gambling addiction following the conclusion of their careers as they sought to replicate the competitive element and ‘natural high’ of playing professionally.

“When these players finish, and we talked about this is with a lot of ex-pros when I was at the FA, they still try and recreate that natural high that they can only get from playing the game.

“That’s something else that needs to be managed and monitored constantly, and no amount of education is going to stop that. Hopefully the constant repetition and constant talking about this topic will mean players of a certain age will understand it more.”

Lastly, Emberson also shared some viewpoints with EPIC RIsk Management’s Senior Vice President US Operations John Millington, on the importance of cooperation across the betting ecosystem to enhance responsibility. 

“Sometimes there’s a challenge to put the blame on one group – the operators, the gamblers themselves for taking responsibility for it – what we are trying to push for is that there are a number of actors in that ecosystem,” Millington explained.

“EPIC are one of those, Genius are one of those, the NFL Player’s Association are one of those. Operators in the industry, teams, regulators, the media – they all play a role in this, and for us it’s about understanding what responsibility each of those actors has and how they can contribute to harm prevention as a group and a collective.”

Emberson also observed, with particular focus to the relationship between sports and wagering, that:  “In the UK it’s under fire across marketing and the relationship between sponsorship and sport. I don’t ever think there is a need for it to be completely outlawed, but measures need to be taken to make sure that the right protections are in place and that the marketing and sponsorship that does happen happens in a responsible way.”

Tyrone Allen, NFL PA: A ‘holistic approach’ to gambling related harm