David Caulker.GamStop Supplied

Caulker: Why Ex-Tottenham footballer is helping gambling addicts

All that Steven Caulker and his buddies had to do while on a private plane enjoying a holiday in Cyprus was go to a fancy casino and enjoy some gambling fun. 

When you've worked so hard to become a VIP or high-value customer, this is the kind of life you live. There aren't any fees to pay since it's an all-expense-paid trip. So you can go gambling without the fear of running out of money. Now, this may easily be considered a dream trip for many people. 

Still, all the luxury played a role in "suffocating" addiction for the ex-Tottenham and Queens Park Rangers defender. Caulker had a massive issue with gambling. He'd formerly gone to rehab, voluntarily surrendered his bank cards to his folks to skip temptation, and barred himself from engaging in all forms of gambling in the UK. However, when it was all laid out for him and his pals, he couldn't stop himself.

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Practices like this have been criticized by the Gambling Commission over the years, which explains why certain gambling companies make up to 83 per cent of their revenues from no more than two per cent of their clients. Caulker claims that he has fixed his life for real and discovered "inner peace" living in Turkey 24 months after the last bet he placed on the 3rd of December, 2018.

Regardless of the fact that he keeps getting unsolicited messages from online casino sites that he cannot block, he now enjoys his life as a Super Lig player for top-of-the-table Alanyaspor and continues to assist others who are having similar issues. As with most gambling addicts, Caulker has reported that the greatest cost of betting impulsively was the impact it had on his family and personal relationships. That's a deeper pain than the cash he spent.

For now, UKGC introduced a self-exclusion service called GamStop to avoid such situations. Despite the fact that several non-GamStop companies operating in the UK still exist, this tool has proven its effectiveness among problem gamblers. It had an impact on his career as a sportsman. During games, Caulker frequently thought about all his gambling losses, including his one and only England appearance in 2012 when he scored a goal against Sweden.

"There was always that idea in the back of my mind that I just had to get all the money I lost back. I kept thinking about making money back even when I had friends and family around or when I was playing games," he said.

"I am still haunted by the lies I told my family and friends." It was suffocating and looking back, those were my worst moments. But now I use that as motivation to become a better person."

Clanker Thinks Betting Adverts Don't Help

The link between sports (especially football) and gambling, according to Caulker, needs to be changed. Three-quarters of teams accept betting partners or sponsors in the Premier League, with the percentage climbing as high as 87 per cent in the Championship.

The English Football League (EFL) and Premier League, which are both supported by Sky Bet, claim that their clubs follow the rules. The EFL went on to say that what it has with the gambling industry is a "mutually beneficial" relationship, and they handled it "responsibly." The Betting and Gaming Council, which represents the business, has implemented a whistle-to-whistle prohibition, claiming that "betting provides the crucial income sports require."

It also claims to have "collaborated with the Gambling Commission to develop a rigorous set of ethical standards on the usage of VIP systems, which has resulted in a 70% reduction in the number of gamers enrolled in such systems."

However, a House of Lords select committee released a report sometime last year, and it recommended that gambling ads be banned from sporting events within 36 months. The government is due to unveil the terms of reference for the UK Gambling Act review next week, allowing for a more in-depth discussion of the subject.

"Did football play a big role in my choice to begin gambling?" Caulker asks.

"No, it's not true. I began to gamble way before that, but I believe that once you're in it, it makes gambling seem like a normal thing, which is not acceptable.

"It doesn't help to have gambling advertisements on your jersey and all around the pitch sides. I'm not a marketing guru, but if all these corporations are spending so much funds on advertising, it's for a goal."