A footballer has shared his experience of betting addiction in the hope that his public stance helps others.
Northern Ireland international Kyle Lafferty told the BBC how he put his “career on the line” by gambling on football while playing for Norwich City.
Lafferty was handed a £23,000 fine last year by the Football Association after he accepted a betting charge.
Now playing for Hearts in the Scottish Premier League, the striker said that he can trace his gambling addiction back to when he played slot machines at amusement arcades as a youth.
He admitted that he was the ‘first one in the door when they opened and pretty much last one out’ when he was only 13 or 14.
After moving to Rangers in 2008, Lafferty said he “didn’t have anything better to do after training than go to the bookies or sit online”. He admitted to betting “every day” on horses, dogs, virtual racing and roulette.
After the fine, he began speaking regularly with a counsellor to discuss his addiction.
But the thirty-year-old said for him, this was an ineffective way of dealing with the issue.
“You can just show face and give the impression that you’re looking for help and then half-an-hour later you’re probably in a bookies on the way home.”
He has now sought out help from other footballers, including former Celtic-star John Hartson.
Hartson, who has faced gambling addiction himself, promised: “I’m going to do my utmost to help him”.
Lafferty said “the time has come” for him to speak out about the issue.
“I want to do it publicly because I want to be honest and if there are any other footballers who are addicted to gambling, then maybe me speaking about my battle might help them.”