User:Matt Irons/BPS2011 Essay

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This paper for the Journal of Sport and Exercise studies will be focused on “Gambling and Sport”. It will take into consideration many sources of information, opinions and articles to present a well informed and educational piece of work, which is aimed at bringing to light the negative impact gambling is having on sport at a number of levels. The identification of how gambling has evolved in recent years and the negative impact this evolution has had on the worlds sporting culture is central to this paper. Gambling has been a widely accepted pastime for generations, but with societies transition into a world were gambling has become more prevalent on the back of media exposure and heightened financial gains. The influence that gambling has over sporting events is too changing.

Business and politics has always been associated with gambling and at times the legitimacy of an outcome, the impact of which is felt both personally and professionally by those involved. The conclusion to be reached at the end of the paper is, that currently the relationship between gambling and sport is weighed heavily in gambling's favour and that without detailed regulations, education of players and officials on gambling and an agreement of transparency between gambling agencies and institutions than their relationship should be scaled back significantly. This will be achieved through detailed research and quality discussion with an aim to encompass the various aspects of business, politics and sport in the association held between gambling and sport


Gambling and sport have always had an association where one side of their relationship benefits far more than the other. This can be seen on many levels, from the massive financial gains gambling institutions make on the back of sporting games and events, the influence that gambling is having over sport and those involved in it as well as the detrimental impact it has on players life’s, whilst playing and also after their career is finished. It cannot be denied that that gambling and its various promotion tools have reached epidemic proportions in the last few years. This paper will look into the negative impact that gambling is having on sport from a number of perspectives The purpose of this paper is to expose the many issues gambling brings to sport on a global scale both personally and professionally for those involved, and to identify options to curve the influence that gambling has over the many games we love.

Gambling in the Sporting Landscape[edit]

Gambling‘s position in the global sporting landscape has changed significantly in the past decade. Gone are the days where a person can watch a television broadcast of a sporting event without the mention of the odds of the games result by the commentator or enjoy a casual punt on the Melbourne Cup without the promotion of some form of exotic bet. The change in the nature of betting in society and sport can be put down to the heavy influence betting agencies have over organisations related with sport. This has been caused by the professional relationships which have been agreed upon between sporting teams and the financial investments that betting agencies are willing to make to promote their brand. Teams have their uniforms adorned with their various sponsors, many of which are now gambling related, including the St Kilda Football Club, who are “proudly sponsored” by Centrebet (Official St Kilda FC Website). The other most direct channel to market to fans is through the use of commentators and media outlets. This form of professional relationship is one shrouded in controversy through the use subliminal messages by broadcasters to their audiences about current odds and ways to bet, as the International Cricket Committee identified in Channel Nine’s broadcast. Below a statement made by the king of commentary, Richie Benaud during a Channel Nine Broadcast:

Richie Benaud - The Promotional Tool

"Just a note about the major turnarounds in Betfair trading today. We've taken a first innings lead, Australia were $1.24 at the start of play and they're now $5, so the draw might still be a decent bet"

The role of gambling agencies in organisations affiliated with sport brings into question a number of moral issues including their access to information which the wider public don’t have as well as the influence they have on operations in these organisations. The relationship between media broadcasters and betting agencies is impacting on society in a negative way in that children are being exposed to this way of life from a much younger age and the impression given to audiences is that betting should encouraged or at least considered each time a sporting event is held. The phrase “gamble responsibly” has lost all meaning as it’s used so regularly these days. Sporting organisations need to take steps towards being more socially responsible when it comes to gambling.

Gambling Inside the Sporting Arena[edit]

Time and time again the reputation of various sports are tarnished due to the actions of its athletes and organisations in relation to gambling. When the credibility of an organisation or association is lost due to allegations of gambling based issues it can be very difficult to regain, each action of a player or team will come into question as to whether what they did was of their own accord or influenced by an external factor (Saltau, C, 2011) . Much of the on-field issues associated with gambling include match and spot fixing. Match fixing is fuelled by one’s ability to gamble and make money by already knowing the presubscribed result of a contest (Hogan, J, 2011). This presubscribed result is achieved by people who bribe, entice or coheres players and or officials into actions which will affect the result of a match in a predetermined way. In recent times match fixing has reached epidemic proportions, with a constant cloud hanging over the outcome of many sporting events. Unfortunately there are a number of examples in international sport where the external influence of gambling has negatively affected the on field result of games and therefore the professional life of many athletes.

Italian Football Scandal[edit]

This scandal embroiled a number of the Seria A (Italian First Division) premier clubs including giants Milan and Juventus. It involved various coaches and officials becoming involved in the selection of referees for certain games through illegal means including bribes and placing undue pressure on those who do the selections (Callow, J, 2011). The consequence being that a games result was unfairly influenced by those officiating and people external to the games were able to make large amounts of money through this. Eventually those involved were caught and punished, with the champions Juventus stripped of two league titles and relegated to the third division of Italian Football.

2006 Serie A Champions, Juventus, later stripped of the trophy and relegated

The actions of those involved brought huge questions and pressure to a game which already has it issues throughout its own governing body of corruption and illegal dealings (Scott, M, 2011). Although it can be conceded in that, this being the biggest betting scandal in the history of the sport, brought some good to the game. The harshness of the penalties for some involved included jail time, this acts as a major deterrent for the future and sets a great precedence. This partnered with a stricter regulation of betting on sport as well as transparency of officials dealings are the right paths to take, unfortunately it doesn’t seem to deter people from being caught up in this form of corruption.

Pakistan Cricketers Match Fixing[edit]
Pakistan's Three Amigo's - Salman Butt, Mohammad Amir and Asif

Allegations of match fixing unfortunately are not new to the game of cricket with many high profile players being linked to the practice. The most recent example involves three players of the Pakistani Cricket Team and the new fad of exotic betting based around spot fixing. Former captain Salman Butt, Mohammad Asif and Mohammah Amear have all been convicted of match fixing in a test match involving Pakistan and England (Lord, R, 2011). Spot fixing involves interfering with a certain period of play, this case was achieved through the use of “no balls”. Punters can bet on things as specific as this in the subcontinent. With massive betting plunges on certain predetermined events certain people were able to make millions of dollars. The external influence on players to be involved in match fixing is said to start from a very young age, where players are targeted and brought up in an environment where this not only accepted but expected from them (Holding, M, 2011). Once again the credibility of play is brought into question and will continue to be brought into question as long as potential gamblers are able to bet on certain match events. With all of the players looking at jail time for these injustices one would hope this facet of the game is behind us and some integrity can return to the game of cricket (Lord, R, 2011).

Gambling Outside the Sporting Arena[edit]

The negative effects of gambling are not only limited to the sporting arena, some would argue that the role of gambling in the private life of athletes is more relevant and far more damaging. The life of a sportsperson is often associated with inflated salaries and more free time than is healthy for a person with a large dispensable income. Given that the professional life of an athlete can be quite short many are willing to take unnecessary risks to further themselves. Whether this be taking a pain killing injection or wagering $10,000 per hole of golf with mates. This form of social interaction with a need to outdo one another or to just push the limits and try and maximise their finances while they can is systematic of many professional athletes (Simmons, B, 2006). This is unfortunately the case for many athletes where addiction has become part of their life. The most detrimental facet of this is when players are in the twilight or aftermath of their career, they are no longer earning what they used to and tend to live beyond their means. There are a number of quite high profile players who have fallen at the mercy of gambling including NBA legends Michael Jordan and Charles Barclay (Torre, P, 2009). This fact is quite alarming but not so rare for many former professional sportsmen especially in the USA. This issue will presented in conjunction with an example of an Australian athlete who battled with a gambling addiction throughout his career.

Former Professional Athletes in America[edit]
Michael Jordan one of many former players to suffer gambling issues

The wages of professional athletes in the United States of America are massive, there is no questioning that, what can be questioned is, what are these players doing with their money? A recent study showed that 78% of former NFL players are having financial issues within two years of retirement, whilst 60% of former NBA players are broke within five years of retirement. There are a number of reasons for this issue in the USA, one of which is the tendenecy to gamble coupled with a gross amount of expendable income athletes have (Torre, P, 2009). It can be assessed that a number of former athletes fail to find perspective when they are gambling, they don’t fully understand the financial damage they are doing to themselves. There is a distinct need in the professionally sporting community of America to break this cycle of players gambling beyond their means and ending up with nothing or having to resort to illegal activities just to get by in life. But when players such as Charles Barkley who have gambled away millions of dollars (, are now the face of media organisations and openly state that they don’t care about their loses are still justifying that way of life, what chance to the next group of sporting superstars have. This situation is relevant for all athletes not just those from the United States.

Brendan Fevola[edit]

One of the AFL’s most talented yet controversial players, Fevola has battled with his addiction to gambling for much of his career. It can be stated that Fevola has made an incredible amount of mistakes in his personal life which in the end dramatically impacted upon his professional career. A driving force beyond many of these mistakes was his risk taking and addictive personality, which Fevola openly admits. Gambling was a central part or Fevola’s life, this lead to the accumulation of massive debts, the breakdown of his marriage, his dismissal from two football clubs and sadly a failed attempt on his life (Balym, T, 2011).

Brendan Fevola contemplating life after football

Fevola’s debts were said to exceed $200,000, with his gambling habits of betting thousands on horse racing and poker were standard to him, he knew no better (Rothfield, P, 2010) . Had Brendan been further educated and monitored in terms of his personal spending he may not have faced the issues he has so far in his life. The management of professional sportsmen is key to not only their success but also the success of the sport they are involved in. Fevola was the face of the AFL for all the wrong reasons throughout his career. Had he earlier in his career has some form of financial management system in place he may not have spent these amounts of money on the high risk high reward activity of gambling.


It can been seen that the impact the gambling and the various forms of corruption and addiction it leads to, provides no benefit other than the financial injections through various marketing and promotional partnerships. The detrimental effect of gambling is sure to increase unless a wide range of strictly governed regulations and policies are implemented across all sporting codes. Many organisations already have regulations in place but unfortunately these haven’t seemed to deter players and officials from breaching these gambling based laws. The use of harsher penalties like in the Pakistan Cricket Case may be the path organisations need to go down to deter these illegal dealings. Social responsibility is key to the successful and even relationship of sport and gambling. This can be achieved through creating limitations on exposure of betting agencies and their product through the use of promotion as well as scaling back the involvement of technology as a marketing tool. The latter will prove the most difficult to monitor but not impossible, as the current trend toward social media is only bound to increase. Education is also essential for players, with the use of financial management and other avenues of guidance to ensure that a player’s financial wellbeing is taken care of particularly after their professional sporting life. In closely, gambling is a time honoured part of sport and with the proper regulation and control it can continue to remain that way, as long as everything possible is done to ensure that the integrity of sport, it’s players and officials remains intact so that we may enjoy the many games we love.

Video Presentation[edit]

A short video presentation has been made to accompany this paper. It can be seen using the link below, enjoy!