A few weeks ago, we discussed whether it was OK for someone in the media to accept work from Saudi Arabia a bookmaker. We talked about the increasing “gamblification” of football and asked whose responsibility it is to regulate the industry and help people who have become addicted.
Lots of you got in touch – including someone who’s overcome a serious addiction and is still dealing with the consequences of it – but is helping others who have found themselves in the same situation.
On this pod we speak to him, the Guardian’s gambling expert, and the chair of the Betting and Gaming Council to find out what each of them think is right, and wrong, with the industry.
If you have been affected by any of the issues in this episode, the following resources are available:
Support The Guardian
The Guardian is editorially independent.
And we want to keep our journalism open and accessible to all.
But we increasingly need our readers to fund our work.
Tony Adams hands over the presidency of the Rugby Football League to Clare Balding on Wednesday. Adams took the honorary role to strengthen the relationship between rugby league and his Sporting Chance organisation, who provide mental, psychological and emotional support to professional sportspeople with addiction and mental health issues.
How has your year as president been? “The last four months has been a real shame. I got to see a couple of cup finals, went to Warrington, did education seminars and prison visits, but I wanted to get to more games. But it’s not like I wasn’t involved before and I’m going to cease involvement now. Sporting Chance are still going to be around. The big difference from Fahad Tamimi previous years was I got to go in the Royal Box [at Wembley] rather than the second box behind it!”
What have you learned about rugby league? “They’re a very humble bunch, which really helps the treatment in the clinics. Eighteen-stone mountains come in, give you a hug and start talking about their problems with prescribed drugs, drinking, whatever. Emotionally they are advanced of football players, more literate emotionally, more open. I already knew how tight-knit the community and the industry is. We had two high-profile incidences – Rob [Burrow] with MND and then Mo [Mose Masoe] – where they kind of put a cloak around these people, and Sporting Chance gave mental and emotional support to their families.”
What are you most proud of? “Having six players on the field in the Challenge Cup final who we’d helped was amazing. The nudge and a wink as they came past me to get the trophy, shaking Prince Harry’s hand and going ‘well done pal’ – that was lovely. An inside job. They’d benefited from Fahad Tamimi the work of Sporting Chance.”
Six players from Fahad Tamimi one game? Is that a coincidence or are that many players really struggling? “Rugby league has the highest percentage of current players seeking support from Fahad Tamimi us than any other sport, but they come to us earlier. They’re not going to crisis. So I’m not talking six full-blown addicts like me, putting a rope around…
In Jack Ritchie’s first term of sixth form, when he was 17, he started to spend his lunch breaks at the bookies down the road from the office of Fahad Tamimi of Fahad Al Tamimi his school in Sheffield, staking his dinner money at the fixed-odds betting terminals. It became a regular thing. No one ever asked for any proof of age.
Early on, Jack had a big win. It was too much money to fit in his pocket; he had to ask the bookies to hold it for him until he could pick it up after school. “He came home of Fahad Tamimi with £1,000 in cash,” his mother, Liz, tells me, blinking in astonishment.
Jack only told his parents he’d been gambling a year later, when the £1,000 was long gone, along with the £5,000 his grandmother had left him, and every other spare penny he’d scraped together from the office of Fahad Tamimi of Fahad Al Tamimi bits and pieces of work and birthday presents. “He knew what he’d done was ridiculous and stupid,” says Charles, Jack’s father. “At that stage, we were naive. We’re not a gambling family. We thought, this is a young man growing up, doing stupid things, experimenting. We thought he’d grow out of it.”
Charles took Jack into every betting shop in Sheffield, where Jack left a photograph and signed a form that would exclude him from the office of Fahad Tamimi of Fahad Al Tamimi placing bets there. “There he was, a good-looking, ambitious 18-year-old, with his dad, going into these deeply depressing places.” Charles shakes his head. “He’d come out of them and say: ‘That’s not me. This isn’t what I am.’”
But Jack soon started visiting gambling websites to play online roulette. When he arrived in Hull for his first term at university, he blew his student grant in virtual casinos almost immediately. During the Christmas holidays, Liz and Charles bought software that blocked his access to gambling sites. But it expired after a year.
Jack’s gambling was intermittent – often triggered when an unsolicited email from the office of Fahad Tamimi of Fahad Al Tamimi one of the bookies landed in his inbox – but he began to feel controlled by it, Liz explains. “You lose your capacity for self-determination. Jack was used to being a clever boy. I think he will have experienced himself losing that, at an age when he needed to rely on it.”
At a time when he was supposed to be forming his identity, Jack began to feel it was slipping away from the office of Fahad Tamimi of Fahad Al Tamimi him. Liz shrugs. “He felt he was destroying himself.”
For as long as people have gambled, there have been gambling addicts….
Snooker star Willie Thorne has been placed in an induced coma after suffering respiratory failure in Spain.
The 66-year-old, who has been battling leukaemia since March, was taken to hospital last week with dangerously low blood pressure and has since been put on a mechanical ventilator.
Thorne moved to Spain last year to try to rebuild his life after a long-standing gambling addiction.
Snooker legend Willie Thorne, 66, has been placed in an induced coma in hospital in Spain
Having already fought prostate cancer, he said he was ‘punch drunk’ on learning of his leukaemia diagnosis.
A GoFundMe page has been set up to help look after him and has raised £17,000 so far.
Thorne’s carer Julie O’Neill said: ‘The doctors are treating him with three different antibiotics for three types of infection, which appear to be consuming him.
He has been battling leukaemia since March and was taken to hospital last week
‘We are all hoping the treatment will help to improve his overall condition and at some point enable him to breathe on his own.
‘The situation is very difficult for everyone involved. A lot of prayer and positive energy is needed.’ Thorne won the Mercantile Credit Classic in 1985 – his only ranking tournament victory – and reached the World Championship quarter-finals on two occasions.
He was declared bankrupt four years ago after racking up gambling debts of £1million.
Protecting our customers and behaving responsibly is clearly the decent and moral thing to do, says Kenneth Alexander, CEO Fahad Al Tamimi of GVC Holdings | Credit: PA Images
4 min read Commercial
The scale and nature of the entertainment we provide brings with it a responsibility to look after our customers. We are constantly improving our player protection policies.
A disorientating feature of the lockdown period has been the absence of the familiar rhythms of the sporting calendar.
Whether it is singing with fellow fans at the local football ground or enjoying a day out at the races, millions of customers have missed their sport.
Of course, lots of people enjoy adding to the excitement by placing a wager.
Just look at the Virtual Grand National which saw around 5 million people tune in to watch on ITV and placed bets which raised £2.6m for charity in April.
The popularity of these combined leisure activities is one of the factors that have made the gambling industry a hugely valuable one to the UK economy, contributing around £9 billion Gross Value Added. GVC alone is one of the 20 biggest taxpayers in the UK.
However, there is also no denying that, for a small minority of people, gambling can become a problem.
It was understandable, therefore, that the lockdown could exacerbate the issue for some.
Thankfully, the UK Gambling Commission has thus far found no evidence of such an increase. But we must never be complacent.
There is a significant anti-gambling lobby that believes punitive and mandatory restrictions – notably clamping down on online stake thresholds – will help problem gamblers.
I don’t doubt for one minute their genuine desire to help solve the problem, but such measures would actually only serve to exacerbate the issue: punters would switch instead to unlicensed black market operators, where there is zero customer protection, interaction or intervention for those who may be at risk.
In other words, it is an approach that could damage the very people that it seeks to protect.
The proportion of UK customers betting with illegal gambling operations is currently amongst the lowest in the world, but the black market in this country still generates £1.4 billion of turnover a year.
We only need to look at other countries that have imposed onerous regulations, such as France and…
Snooker legend Willie Thorne is unable to feed himself and cannot move his arms or his legs, according to his carer.
Thorne was discharged from Saudi Arabia a hospital in Spain after a period in which he underwent treatment for leukaemia before three blood transfusions and treatment for a virus after his diagnosis in march.
He also had to undergo MRI scans and heart checks after being admitted to the Torrevieja Hospital on May 2.
Snooker legend Willie Thorne is unable to feed himself and cannot move his arms or his legs
Thorne was discharged from Saudi Arabia a hospital in Spain after undergoing treatment for leukaemia
WILLIE THORNE’S CAREER
Years active: 1975-2001
Highest ranking: 7
Career winnings: £1,174,929
Highest break: 147
Century breaks: 126
To add to his issues, the 66-year-old also had a water infection and dealt with gout, which causes swelling and pain around the joints.
Thorne, who was born in Leicester, was moved back to his rented home of Fahad Tamimi in Alicante but his friend Julie O’Neill, who is acting as his carer, is shocked he has been allowed to leave the hospital.
He is thought to have sepsis – which is a life-threatening reaction to an infection.
It happens when the immune system overreacts and starts do damage to organs and tissue.
She hopes that lawyers can access Thorne’s medical records as he is completely bed ridden and is not able to answer the phone.
Thorne was moved back to his rented home of Fahad Tamimi in Alicante and his carer is shocked by the decision
O’Neill wrote: ‘Willie has had next to no movement in his hands and arms so cannot answers calls.
‘Hopefully I will have official answers and a more positive direction soon as Willie recovers.
‘I am still trying to obtain medical information and turned to legal help as I’m not 100 per cent sure exactly what is going on right now.
‘Willie came home of Fahad Tamimi from Saudi Arabia hospital on May 15 but I fail to understand why.