“There were evenings when I went to bookmakers with decent amount of money, lost everything and felt myself terrible. I was ashamed, I felt guilt and hatred towards myself. Five minutes later this feeling was gone. I though I’d continue betting. I realized that I don’t have control of the situation but still was doing it”.

Matthew Etherington, who finished his professional career as a footballer in December 2014, is one of the athletes with gambling addiction. Ex-midfielder of West Ham claimed he lost more than 1,5 million pounds in his life. At some point, he had debt of 800 thousand pounds. Etherington was diving in different kinds of gambling – played poker online, made horse and dog racing bets, fancied slots.

We recommend you to pay attention at online casinos that give free money to start in order not to play on your own money.

Example of football players who are gamblers

Matthew’s family members made him an intervention, thanks to which he realized his addiction. Unfortunately, a big number of athletes are gamblers. For instance, while recovering from the injury in FC Barcelona, the representative of Iceland Eidur Gudjohnsen got himself a huge debt (6 million pounds).

Ex-forward of “Newcastle” and “Blackpool” Michael Chopra lost 2 million pounds to gambling. It made him play with injury in “Ipswich”. Paul Merson spent for gambling, booze and drugs about 7 million pounds. Ditmar Hamman, Dominic Matteo, Wayne Rooney are the examples of addicted gamblers as well.

Some will be lucky enough to get rid of an awful addiction early, like Etherington did, while the others have less luck. Ex-“Manchester United”, “Newcastle” and Northern Ireland national team player Keith Gillespie – He lost about 7 million pounds in his life. Gillespie claimed that when he was young he was a running boy for Sir Alex Ferguson and placed bets for him at bookmakers.


Professional federation of players conducted a research for gambling addiction of football and cricket players. 350 athletes participated in the poll. The researchers found out that 6% of the respondents are gambling addicts or degenerate gamblers.

This figure among common people is much lower – at 2%. 4% make bets every day and 67% of respondents place betas at least once a month. 12% more were in the risk group. They have a potential for becoming gambling addicts.

Athletes like gambling in all its forms: sportsbook, slots, casino, horse racing etc. Though gambling addiction is not as destroying for athletes as alcoholism, connection with gambling confirms suspicions about participating in rigged matches.

Football is very closely connected with the gambling industry. Almost every club has its betting partner. Sometimes sportsbooks are even title sponsors of the teams. One is able to see tons of bookies ads during the matches.

All this reminds people that they need to make a bet. Potential addiction of a person is a good thing for bookmaker.

Football players themselves – risk group?

Not all the footballers, nor common people generally accept the term “gambling addiction”. Many are certain the gamblers may stop whenever they want. Football players are perceived as people with too high salaries and low level of self-control. This leads to big probability of becoming gambling addicts.

Footballers get big money while they are young. Oftentimes they just don’t know what to do with amounts that big. In addition to that, players have a lot of spare time. So they go to sportsbooks and casinos.

It is OK for football players to “brag” in dressing rooms about their winnings. Those stories are usually being told with loud laughter and irony. Without a doubt, football players are within the right to do what they want with their money.

But this can effect their career. The stronger the addiction of the player the more he gets away from his friends, team, career. In result, it shows on their form and performance. Most football players have agents and managers.

Many of those agents don’t react knowing about gambling addiction of the player. After the situation gets critical, they begin to help the players.

Matthew Etherington told us about his standard day: “The first thing I do in the morning is placing my bets. Online, or in the sportsbook nearby. Instead of thinking of the upcoming match in the league I was wondering whom should I bet on today”.

This claim shows how bad can gambling addiction be for a professional player. In its essence it is a legal form of drug addiction. As gambling addict can’t be without his “drug”.

Instead of conclusion

Gambling addict makes his problem bigger and bigger with every new bet of his. At some moment, the problem becomes so big, one is able to get our of it only using someone else’s help. Football players who get big money have many vices.

One of the worst vices is gambling addiction. At some moment, it may become something bigger. Football player on the edge starts to bet on the matches of his own team. So gambling addiction of professional athletes is something we should fight with.