Let’s Talk About Gambling

For many people, sports and gambling go hand in hand. How many of us have prepared for a college football Saturday or NFL Sunday by placing an accumulator on the day’s fixtures? Other sports (horse racing, dog racing) are entirely synonymous with gambling. It’s hard to imagine those industries surviving without it. Few can attend “a day at the races” without the compulsion to take a visit or two to the bookmaker.

The Numbers 

As a result of Covid-19 lockdowns and disruption to sporting events, gambling participation actually fell in the UK by 3.5% from June 2020 (source: Gambling Commission). That fall is largely the result of the sharp decline of in-person gambling. Nearly 2,000 betting shops closed between 2011 and 2019 (source: finder.com). Online gambling however has increased in recent years, up 3% since June 2020 (source: Gambling Commission).

The accessibility of bookmakers’ apps on smartphones means that a bet is never more than a few taps away. UK punters spent over £1bn on remote betting in 2020 (source: Gambling Commission). Though football and horse racing seems to dominate, the growth in popularity of American football means it is catching up fast.

If a flutter enhances your experience, great. If you can afford it, and it has no negative impact on your life, who are we to tell you what to do with your own money?

But what about if it becomes a problem, and what does it have to do with our site?

Problem Gambling 

Roughly 0.5% of the UK’s adult population are problem gamblers (source: finder.com), although other research suggests it may be as high as 2.7% (source: YouGov.com). Although those percentages seem rather small, it equates to millions of people living in the UK. In a YouGov poll (2021), 27% of all recipients confirmed that they spent between £6 and £100 per month on sports gambling (source: YouGov.com). Behind each statistic is a story of personal debt, health problems and significant impacts to families.

You may already know that we introduced an article in the 2020 college football season. It was named Kesh’s College Fund, and offered weekly tips for the weekend’s fixtures ahead.

That series of articles will be running once more this season. In an attempt to encourage responsible gambling, we will be issuing each with a disclaimer, which you can see below. We want to offer and compare predictions with our readers. However, we have a responsibility to minimise the risk of one of our own developing problem gambling habits. We don’t want to contribute to problem gambling.

Gambling should be fun. We look forward to comparing our predictions with you for the upcoming season. If the enjoyment disappears, get in touch with us. Send a DM to @5yardcollege on Twitter to talk in confidence.


The predictions above are the opinions of the author, and not a guarantee of victory should you place a bet. Please gamble responsibly. Do not place a bet on a sport or fixture that you know little about. Never gamble with money you don’t have. Don’t borrow money to gamble. Don’t chase your losses. If you want to talk about your gambling habits, DM our Twitter account (@5yardcollege) in confidence. For expert help and advice, contact the following: GamCare, The Gordon Moody Association, Gamblers Anonymous UK. Alternatively, you can ring the National Gambling Helpline on 0808 8020 133.

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