Gambling addiction has become the greatest issue among professional sportsmen and women, dwarfing alcohol and drug addiction cases, according to Sporting Chance founder Tony Adams.
The charity, which offers mental health services to current and former professionals, said that more than half of its clients are now treated for gambling issues.
Of those, 60 per cent are current professionals.
Adams said: “Gambling has been an issue even stretching back to my playing days, but it seems to be the biggest issue now, more than alcohol.”
Sporting Chance Chief Executive Colin Bland called for “meaningful reform” to how gambling and sport relate, in order to “protect against further avoidable harm”.
In an open letter from the charity, Bland said that it aims to “raise awareness of this serious public health issue”.
He added that it appears many within professional sport are “uncomfortable with the level at which the gambling industry has managed to embed itself in the fabric of their beloved sports”.
Currently, 75 per cent of English Premier League teams have betting sponsors or partners.
In the Championship it is even higher, at 87 per cent.