Gambling crisis in GAA - Former Galway star claims team backed themselves at 33/1 and won
Former Galway hurler Justin Campbell has revealed that all members of a panel from an unnamed club in the county once backed themselves at odds of 33/1 - and came up trumps.
The news from Galway that two clubs bet on themselves this year, as revealed by outgoing county board chairman Noel Treacy, comes as no surprise to Campbell, who has noticed a spike in the numbers of people seeking counselling and treatment for addiction approaching the Christmas period.
Campbell, currently working as an addiction counsellor, insisted: "I'd say there's a number of players in every club and county team having a bet. It's the norm, it's the done thing. I know a couple of years ago, a club in Galway were 33/1 to qualify for the championship and all of the players had a right few quid on themselves.
"It was more a motivational thing than anything else. The bookie gave them 33/1 and they all threw on €50 or €100 apiece. The bet came up for them."
And Campbell also revealed the story of a 19-year-old club footballer who ended up suicidal and requiring urgent psychiatric help recently.
The Kiltormer man said: "A young lad, 15 years of age, started gambling with his school uniform on.
"His mother went down and ordered the staff not to serve him, and gave them a photo, but the staff changed and he was back at it again three years later.
"He went to college and pulled out, didn't like it, still gambling away. He's in a job now in a fast-food outlet, €400 a week with €50 of that taken off him and put into an account, and the other €350 gambled.
"Nineteen years of age, he's given up his football and ended up in psychiatric services three weeks ago, suicidal."
As revealed recently, the GAA's Health and Wellbeing committee is hoping to bring a motion to next year's Annual Congress which would ban players from betting on games and competitions in which they're involved in. Campbell is still hopeful that this will happen but admits that it will be almost impossible to police.
He said: "The player will walk into Paddy Powers and put on the bet himself - who's to stop it?
"Suppose you're knocked out in the championship in an All-Ireland quarter-final, you can't have a bet either because it's still the competition you were involved in. I don't know what the right way is but something needs to be done - an open debate needs to take place.
"You can make all the policies you like but if players don't adhere to them, you're in serious bother."