Roscommon boss warns of 'glamorised' gambling
An inter-county manager who also works as an addiction counsellor says that the scale of the gambling problem in the GAA has not emerged because players are embarrassed to admit it.
Justin Campbell, the Roscommon and Connacht hurling manager, has appealed to any GAA players with gambling problems to ask for help. Campbell, who was nominated recently for the Galway hurling job, works as an addiction counsellor in the Connacht region and sees the gambling problem at the coalface. And he says he has encountered several GAA players with gambling issues and has tried to help them with their problems.
The issue was recently highlighted by Galway county committee chairman Noel Treacy, who has vowed to tackle the scourge of gambling and its advertising, but Campbell says the embarrassment of admitting that there is a problem is what's keeping players from seeking assistance.
Campbell claims that gambling has been 'glamorised' and made 'attractive' by the betting firms who bombard sporting events with up-to-the-minute betting adverts, but that the real problem starts when players start bet in games they are involved in.
"The difficulty for players is the amount of coverage and advertisement that's out there, it's almost attractive to be betting without actually looking at the risks involved. It's almost like advertising alcohol, it's great fun and all that, but tell that to someone that's lost a house or lost a relationship, or has nothing left after it, or feels suicidal from it.
"What message are we giving to our GAA players in relation to the game itself? God forbid the day that players start betting on their own results, whether to win or lose. Then we're into a different scenario completely which would be very dangerous for the association," said Campbell, who played senior hurling for his native Galway in the 1990s.
Campbell had plenty of praise for the GAA and GPA, both of whom have helped out players in distress in recent times, but he said there is still plenty for clubs and counties to do to ensure players get help.
In Galway, for instance, he hopes to see a Health and Wellbeing officer in every club in the county, but for the meantime he says the big thing for those with gambling issues is to admit that they have a problem and then ask for help.
"Secrecy keeps addiction alive. I think if you break the secrecy and become really honest with yourself, admit the game is up, that I need help with this, that I can't carry on with this.
"Sometimes county players are put up on a pedestal on some level because of their ability to hurl or play football, but behind the scenes it may be a different scenario. They could owe thousands."