Against the Odds is not the first campaign calling for an end to gambling sponsorship and advertising in sport. The Big Step, a campaign founded by James Grimes, has already recruited the support of 30 football clubs across the UK and Republic of Ireland. We hope we can emulate and build on their success in partnership.
Gambling with Lives is a charity set up in 2018 by families bereaved by gambling-related suicide. They support bereaved families, raise awareness of the devastating effects of gambling disorder, and campaign for change.
The charity, founded by Liz and Charles Ritchie after their son, Jack, took his life in 2017 because of a gambling addiction, they have been campaigning for the government to acknowledge the scale of the problem.
According to research from Public Health England it is estimated that there are more than 409 suicides a year in England associated with compulsive gambling. When gambling harms in the broadest possible sense are considered, there may be millions in the UK suffering directly or indirectly due to harmful gambling.
In early 2019, James Grimes approached Gambling with Lives with the idea of walking between football clubs that had gambling sponsors to raise awareness of the harmful relationship between them. The Big Step was born.
The Big Step is a campaign to end all gambling advertising and sponsorship in football, led by people harmed by gambling. They believe that the 2005 Gambling Act helped to legitimise and glamourise gambling through its association with football and other sports.
James had a 12-year gambling addiction and football played a big role in his addiction. He has spoken passionately on many occasions about how he was doing everything in his power not to gamble, whilst his favourite sport – football – was telling him the opposite, and became a “trigger” for his gambling.
Whilst many sports, including football, are now flooded with “safer” gambling messages (which are not without their problems), during his addiction James clearly recalls that football was telling him “it matters more when there is money on it.”
The Big Step has won the support of 30 football clubs across the UK and the Republic of Ireland, and their walks between football clubs that have gambling sponsors helps to raise awareness of the harmful relationship between them.
Against the Odds is dedicated to working closely with the Big Step to raise awareness of the harm caused by gambling, call for an end to gambling sponsorship and advertising in stadiums and through the online presence of clubs, as well as a ban on gambling sponsorship of competitions.
We look forward to learning from their experience and working in partnership with The Big Step to ensure the future of sport in Greater Manchester is free from gambling sponsorship and advertising and where we watch sport, be it in a stadium, in the pub, or at home with friends and family, is conducive to supporting individuals that may have experienced gambling harms.
For more information about Gambling with Lives and The Big Step, visit their websites: