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Top flight footballer on problem gambling

3 August 2022
footballer running towards football

An former Premier League footballer has spoken about his battle with gambling addiction and offered help to other struggling players.

Michael Chopra, who played for both Newcastle and Sunderland, was gripped by severe addiction to gambling for years.

He told the BBC that at the height of his problem, he was squandering as much as £20,000 per day on bets.

Now 38 and back in football part-time, Chopra wants to pass on advice to young players at risk of going down the same path.

He says his Twitter DMs are open for anyone to seek advice about addiction issues they are facing.

'I want to help'

Mr Chopra said: "I will always reach out to someone who needs advice because you don't know what drastic action they might take.

"I want to try to help. I'm happy I am there for somebody who needs someone to talk to and give my experience.

He added: "I doubled my wages at Sunderland, and [gambling] started to become a big problem.

"Sunderland sent me to a specialist hospital and I was staying in a hotel around the corner from the hospital.

"I'd do the classes... but as soon as I finished I'd go straight into a nearby betting shop because I didn't want to help myself.

"Gambling is such a bad addiction. Deep down in your head it kills you, it really drains you. You have got to open up and admit you have got a problem."

Delay to vital reforms

In July, it emerged that a UK Government whitepaper on gambling reform has been delayed due to chaos in the Conservative Party.

The document was ready to be signed off before Boris Johnson's resignation. Officials are now waiting for the new PM to be in post.

The delay is the fourth since 2020, when a review of gambling laws was ordered by government, given colossal gambling-related harms.

Speaking in July, Tim Cairns, Senior Policy Officer at CARE, said:

“A further delay to the publication of the long-awaited white paper on gambling reform is inexcusable.

"There is a democratic and a moral case for green lighting this proposal, and finally allowing parliamentarians to get to grips with it.

“Every day in the UK a person takes their own life because of gambling-related harm. Delaying reform will only cause more, untold grief."

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While for some, gambling is just harmless fun, for a significant minority it causes genuine devastation. Our vision is to see laws passed that will help protect vulnerable problem gamblers.

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