Betting is “everywhere” in football, making it hard for gambling addicts to escape its grip, NI international Kyle Lafferty has said.
The striker, who recently spoke of his own struggle with addiction, said a culture of gambling and the prominence of advertising has to be tackled.
Lafferty told The Telegraph that he found it hard to confront his gambling addiction while playing in the Scottish Professional Football League (SPFL).
“Everywhere you look in Scotland, it’s the William Hill Scottish Cup, the Ladbrokes Premiership and you are playing a game and Bet365 is going around advertising boards and stuff like that.
“Everywhere you look there is something to do with betting. I think people need to look at it because if you have a problem, it is difficult to get away from it unless you are going to be brave, come out and get help but that’s difficult.
“I have spent about 11 or 12 years where probably only my close pals and team-mates knew about the problem and even then they probably didn’t know the extent of it.”
Recently, Lafferty told the BBC how he put his “career on the line” by gambling on football while playing for Norwich City.
He was handed a £23,000 fine by the Football Association after he accepted a betting charge.
The striker said that he can trace his gambling addiction back to when he played slot machines at amusement arcades as a youth.
However, after more than a decade of addiction, Lafferty found help by speaking to footballers who have overcome addiction, including former Wales striker John Hartson.
For several months, he has not been betting. He told The Telegraph, “it feels like a massive weight has been lifted from my shoulders”.
Last month, an investigation by the BBC found that gambling ads feature in 95 per cent of advertising breaks during football matches.
Matt Zarb-Cousin of the Campaign for Fairer Gambling said: “We are concerned about the effects of children and young people being exposed to gambling advertising due to the pre-watershed exemption for live sporting events.”