Hamilton manager, Brian Rice, has received lots of supportive comments since yesterday’s statement admitting to a gambling addiction, as well as breaking rules for betting on football over the last five seasons. The SFA have a duty to discipline him in line with previous offenders when their disciplinary panel meet later this month, but there should be some nervous shuffling in the room, as much of the game’s finances in Scotland are underpinned by the gambling industry. Do as we say, not as we write commercial agreements.
For me, gambling amounts to losing money on every race at my once a year visit to Hamilton Park Racecourse, a sensation that has never once returned an endorphin kick, so will never be addictive, but I go along and bet every year, so I cannot be snooty about others who earn from it.
Football’s rules on the matter are nothing to do with welfare; those who work in the game are subject to a flow of insider information and influence, which could compromise the game. One player was recently disciplined for betting on his own team to lose (they won and he scored). However, the issue has welfare consequence, both for high-earning players and the ordinary punter.
Brian Rice will hopefully overcome his demons, he will certainly have the best of support towards this end. By speaking out so frankly, he has given the game an opening. What can football and the gambling industry do to help the addicted fan? Football has access to people the way few outreach programmes could ever hope for. It has a job here.