Tuesday 20 February 2018

Gambling epidemic is looming - McNamee

Niall McNamee (SPORTSFILE)
Niall McNamee (SPORTSFILE)

Michael Verney

Last month was a significant milestone for Niall McNamee, marking four years since he decided his gambling problem had spiralled so far out of control that treatment was needed to get his life back on track.

Despite maintaining high standards on the pitch, the Offaly attacker was tormented off it. He documented his addiction publicly, but despite the GPA taking positive steps, he believes a storm is looming.

"The GAA has a huge gambling culture. A lot of people wouldn't see it as an issue but it's going to become an epidemic over the coming months," McNamee said.

"I'm away from it now but I know a lot of club and county WhatsApp groups are full of tips and different bets that lads are having. I hear it in dressing-rooms the whole time, it's accepted as the norm.

"Thankfully the introduction of apps weren't around in my time. People are using them to pass time but they become completely dependent on them."

The Rhode ace has been approached by a "crazy" amount of players, both past and present, since telling his story about the "merry go-round of negativity" gambling creates, but he acknowledges that a solution is not quick at hand.

"You see and hear more and more ads for bookmakers and online sites," McNamee said. "I understand there's lots of money involved but it's becoming more acceptable, that's not a good example to set.

"It's very difficult to stop betting because there are two types of gambler: the addict and the occasional punter. It's very difficult for those who do it as a hobby to understand how serious it can be for others.

"Some players are backing themselves to get the first point or first goal and that can have a serious effect on their performance and the team's.

"They don't even know why they are doing it and it could also lead them to a place where they back against themselves."

GAA gambling regulations trail in FAI's wake

Rules governing gambling within the GAA are in stark contrast to those of their FAI counterparts, with only two regulations in the Official GAA Guide and neither pertaining to betting on GAA games and activities.

Under Rule 5.1(b) Uses of Property, it says “grounds controlled by Association units shall not be used or permitted to be used for Horse Racing or Greyhound Racing”.

Rule 5.4 details Exclusion describing how “bookmaking shall not be permitted within Association property, with a breach resulting in a 24-month suspension”.

Contrastingly, the FAI introduced new regulations in March this year under Rule 101 Betting/Gambling of their Official Rules for the Association.

Some of the most interesting rules include the following, with engagement subject to disciplinary sanction.

2. a) acting in a manner that is likely to exert an influence on the course and/or result of a match or competition by means of behaviour with a view to gaining an advantage for themselves or a third party;

b) participating directly or indirectly in betting or similar activities relating to matches or competitions or having a direct or indirect financial interest;

In June, Drogheda United’s Shane Dunne got a five-match ban after betting on the Louth side to lose to Sligo Rovers by more than two goals.

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