Well maybe that’s the problem. Because, contrary to what every billboard, stadium hoarding or TV broadcast would have you believe, sport is not merely another vehicle for gamblers to vent their pent up frustration. It is an end in itself, which is slowly being overshadowed by ever more insidious advertising.
The deadening slew of spots for gambling apps, online casinos and in-game betting opportunities is drab, un-entertaining, and mostly caters to the brainless, laddest-common-denominator stereotype that puts many off watching live or televised sport. (One would also imagine it would be off-putting for a player if, a goal down in the last ten minutes, he happens to glance at a hoarding proclaiming the minuscule in-game odds of his team fighting for a comeback, something that is, if not likely, then at least feasible).
There is definitely a time and a place for gambling; casino style card or chance games can be fun, it does add a little spice for a spectator, or even for the amateur competitor. Nor should gambling companies be seen as the evil addiction-merchants they are often portrayed as: If you have the money, redistribute it as you will, but if you don’t then throwing good money after bad is not a health problem, merely idiocy, and responsibility ultimately lies with yourself rather than those who accept your cash.
What is sinister is a recent development, where adverts seem to acknowledge gambling as a problem, but either tongue-in-cheek, or in an attempt to tempt people to spend more.
A current Warburton’s bread campaign tells the story of a “charming, carefree” patriarch, who loved crumpets and his morning paper. The punchline? He died having disinherited his family to service his gambling debts. Funny, right?
In another advert for a popular in-game betting site, the viewer is taken through an average punter’s afternoon in the pub. It shows the pulse racing, the mood darkening, the despair, the sweat, the anguish…
This, apparently, is a human being enjoying themselves and not, as anyone not au fait with the pleasures of a little flutter would expect, an individual undergoing some form of sub-Guantanamo psychological torture. With each rise or fall on his little electronic device, this happy man undergoes a mini psychological revolution.