Edinburgh to Glasgow march calls for an end to gambling involvement in Scottish football

More than 40 people affected by gambling, including recovering addicts and their families, are to take part in the 60-mile march, between Edinburgh and Glasgow, which will end at the national stadium, Hampden Park in Glasgow.

The event is being staged by The Big Step, an organization set up by a former gambling addict who now wants to see the industry’s involvement with football ended across the UK.

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The online betting site Dafilia is the current Celtic shirt sponsor, while Old Firm rivals Rangers has the logo of the 32Red online casino firm on its shirts.

The marchers will visit both clubs when in Glasgow on February 13, before finishing their march at Hampden stadium.

The walk, which starts on February 11, will also see campaigners visit a number of other clubs, meet their representatives and also with some elected politicians.

Starting in Edinburgh, marchers will visit both Hibernian FC and city rivals Hearts, before heading on to other clubs including Livingston, Motherwell, and Hamilton Academical.

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Kelly Field, one of those who will be taking part, said her online gambling addiction was “fueled by a relentless barrage of advertising”.

She said: “At my worst, I wasn’t eating or drinking properly – I felt suicidal at times and would gamble in the bathroom in secret.”

“Gambling kills and football must stop promoting it. I know of people who have taken their own life when they couldn’t see any other way out.”

James Grimes, who founded The Big Step after being addicted to gambling for 12 years, said the organisation’s latest event “comes as we stand at a crucial moment”.

The UK Government is reviewing the 2005 Gambling Act, with some rumors suggesting this could be seen betting firms banned from shirt sponsorship in the English Premier League.

But The Big Step wants ministers to go further than this and end the promotion of gambling across all levels of football within the UK.

Mr Grimes said: “Decision-makers must put the health of young fans first and end all gambling ads in football.

“If they don’t, we encourage every club and governing body in Scotland – including the ones we are visiting on this walk – to be brave and to ban gambling sponsorship and advertising before the government makes the decision for them.”

He added: “We applaud Scottish football’s recent move away from gambling sponsorship of competitions, but much more must be done. This is a unique chance to be on the right side of history and we hope fans will help their club make this decision.”

The UK Government received more than 16,000 responses to its call for evidence as part of the review of the Gambling Act, with a White Paper setting out the findings and proposals from this expected to be published in the “coming months”.

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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