On an almost daily basis, we see footballers plastered on the front page of the newspapers with allegations about their private life. Gambling is a vice that is often taken to extremes by sporting stars, including those within the Rugby Union.
Anyone can fall prey to a gambling addiction but some are more susceptible than others. Sport stars are particularly vulnerable to this issue, as they live in a high pressure environment. Blowing off steam can come in many forms, such as playing in a casino or on online slot games.
Gambling sites attract the target audience by using elements of sport in slots games, such as the Rugby Star slot game. This can be yet another draw for those that play the sport, as it brings a part of their real life into the gambling world. Although this is more explored in the football world, new documentaries are going the extra mile to show that it can be a problem for anyone in a position of fame.
The salary of a player might seem lucrative but this can also be a contributor to a gambling problem. Players are accustomed to having money to burn but that only lasts to a certain age, as the retirement age in sport is so much lower than other industries. Falling into a gambling problem can be manageable if the player is earning thousands a week but when the cash stops flowing it begins to cause real problems. Again, playing on sport themed slot games can be a last reminder of their time in the industry and connection to the game.
These destructive tendencies can very quickly become part of the real world when the player runs out of money or is unexpectedly dropped from a team. This can devastate a player and their family, which can also leave them feeling isolated with no one to turn to.
The overall integrity of the sport can also be affected, as gambling scandals have rocked the world of rugby in the past. Philip Blake, former defence coach of Leicester Tigers RFC, was suspended for six months after he was caught out betting on his own team. This was treated as relatively harmless but there could have been further allegations of match fixing had he bet against the team. At the very least, it’s unethical behaviour and insider trading – as he had more chance of winning with his coaching knowledge.
Fantasy football is another pattern that’s coming to the rugby world and although it’s not gambling in the strictest sense of the word, it can still be dangerous. Of course, in this realm we have the experts that give their top picks and player favourites but what if these came from inside rugby? Fantasy rugby could greatly compromise the sport as players could potentially win profit from losing a game intentionally.
World Rugby forbids any player or any person connected to the professional rugby game to bet upon it but too easily these can fall through the cracks. In the case of Blake, the bet was only picked up by a savvy casino worker who noticed a strange betting pattern. Six Nations governing bodies remain committed to policing this as best they can but their reach can only go so far.
They’ve flexed their governing muscles on a few occasions to ensure that they put a definite rule book on show. They’ve questioned players and fans in the past, which at the time appeared to be simply to show that they could. They’re clearly working hard to fight