There was me, having a right good laugh about Sutton’s roly-poly goalie scoffing a pasty in the dug out during his team’s FA Cup tie against Arsenal reserves, when I didn’t think to myself: I wonder if he is doing that for a bet since his club have embroidered Sun Bets all over their shirts just for the game? Of course I didn’t. It hadn’t occurred to me that the squalid Sun’s latest way to screw money from his readers might be in any way connected with the 8-1 odds being offered by Sun Bets if Wayne Shaw, for it was he, was to eat a pasty in the dug out. I’m not that cynical and I was definitely born yesterday.
I’ll certainly be quite confident there will be nothing untoward going on when I attend the Sky Bet League One match this Saturday between Bristol Rovers and Scunthorpe United. Nor when Liverpool, who even let their manager advertise Bet Victor on telly, visit Leicester City. And how about Stoke City who play at the Bet 365 stadium? They’re all at it, or almost nearly all of them, and why not? Everyone wants a cut of the action from the money pit known as the Premier League.
I’m not just picking on football, though. Super League is actually called the Bet Fred Super League and barely a week goes by in Snooker or Darts without a gambling company sponsored event taking place and especially during football matches, you find yourself drowning in advertisements from bookmakers. Many of them make losing money at bookmakers – you do lose: that’s why there are so many gambling companies – look incredibly glamorous (“this is the Ladbrokes life” as five smartly dressed middle class men skip down the road having won yet again) which it patently isn’t. Ray Winstone says, in his best East End gangster accent, “I gamble responsibly”, flogging the aforementioned Bet 365, which is another way of saying “I lose money but not so much that it fucks up my life”.
Poor old Wayne Shaw got lured in, hook, line and sinker, and lost everything, but he is just another sad victim of gambling. He was a dick, certainly, but on-line betting is in your face whenever you watch and attend a sporting event. Betting is “normal” because it’s between adverts for beer and cars and if you don’t want the “Ladbroke’s life”, you’re the one who is missing out.
It was laughable hearing the powers that be wrestling with the contradiction that betting giveth sponsorship money for sport and it taketh away form the mug punters who are sucked, even bludgeoned, into taking part. “We must have stricter regulation”, they say before counting the income from another televised sporting and betting event.
You can bet on anything these days. You can bet on the minute when Premier League players surround and then abuse the referee, you can bet on the first horse to be put down in the grand national and now you can even bet on whether a fat bloke eats a pasty in the dug out.
Who are the victims? Not the millionaires and billionaires, that’s for sure. A misguided fool like Wayne Shaw, not a class A dolt like Joey Barton who no doubt will hold on to his £50k a week whilst the former, now virtually unemployable, signs on for Jobseekers Allowance, that’s who.
You seldom meet a poor bookie but you meet plenty of people who have messed everything up by gambling and losing. But we now have a growing epidemic of betting and Wayne Shaw will not be the last gullible victim.