Tonight at 9pm, the topic of problem gambling is to be spotlighted in the UK as BBC One airs Paul Merson‘s new documentary: Football, Gambling & Me.

The documentary is said to recount the former footballer’s latest relapse into gambling addiction, triggered by the anxieties of the COVID-19 national lockdown, in which Merson has admitted to losing his ‘entire earnings and life savings’.

Press briefings for the show have outlined that Merson comes face-to-face with his compulsive behaviours, and further examines how ‘new technology is making the gambling industry more insidious with the ability to gather information about customers’.

Bringing industry reforms into the public eye, BBC’s documentary is aired as UK gambling awaits the critical judgement of the government’s current review of the 2005 Gambling Act.

Selected as ‘pick-of-day’ by the Daily Mail, The Sun and Mirror newspapers, the documentary is said to show Merson’s battle with gambling and alcohol addiction which have been ‘well-documented’ during his career as a footballer and TV pundit. 

However, reflecting on his experience, Merson confessed that problem gambling carries a social stigma in which victims are deemed as untrustworthy or bad people.

Last month, GamCare’s National Helpline registered a ‘sudden influx’ in calls following Merson’s interview on ITV’s Good Morning Britain (GMB), in which he admitted to his latest relapse.

This summer, in a further push to raise awareness of the issue, Channel 4 broadcast its ‘Football’s Gambling Addiction’ documentary by former Scottish Conservative Minister Ruth Davidson.

Davidson criticised the UK’s existing gambling laws, which she deemed had led to a ‘parasite taking over its host’ and called for broadcasters and football clubs to curb the ‘saturation of betting advertising’ that serves as an ‘inescapable trigger for former and recovering addicts’.

DCMS maintains that it will deliver its gambling judgement by the end of the year, as ministers are dutifully revising 13,000 responses with regards to UK gambling’s technical provisions, conduct, licensing, affordability, consumer advocacy, advertising, social responsibility and corporate governance duties.

Paul Merson to feature in BBC documentary on gambling struggles