Recovering gambling addict and Norwich City fan writes open letter to club about concerns over LeoVegas sponsorship deal

Norwich City chairman Ed Balls, LeoVegas UK head Jon Sinclair and City's managing director Steve Sto

Norwich City chairman Ed Balls, LeoVegas UK head Jon Sinclair and City's managing director Steve Stone at Colney after officially announcing the mobile gaming and sports betting company has become the club's principal partner for the next three years. Picture: JasonPix. - Credit: Jason Dawson/JASONPIX

Recovering gambling addict and Norwich City fan Luke Jones has written an open letter to the club to voice his concern over the decision to have LeoVegas as the club's main sponsor.

Dear Sirs,

I am writing to you today to voice my disapproval with regards to your announcement of your new main sponsors Leovegas.

Please let me take you back to August 2009, it was my first game as a city season ticket holder, having bought my season ticket with my first month's salary from my first ever job having just left school. At 18 I too held the hopes of success similar to that of our club on that barmy day in August having joined the big wide world of work.

It was also this time which something would change the rest of my life forever. I was given a free £10 spin on a gambling website such as the one in which you have now partnered with as our main sponsors. A £10 free bet harmless no?

MORE: Norwich City assures fans it will work with closely with gambling addiction charity after announcing LeoVegas sponsorship dealYears passed and so did promotions and relegation while watching Norwich was one of my favourite things to do, also brewing in this time was my gambling addiction, which got worse and worse, as the clubs success got better and better, well until this season anyway.

I know that your sponsors will try to portray a fun, safe environment, but their website is exactly the same as the ones which I became addicted too. I am not trying to be a saint in anyway, but the amount of pain and anguish that this addiction to gambling online which these websites feed on,has not only been to myself by affect my family and friends lives over the years. This is something that I do not feel that I can simply let go as I promised myself that if I could stop one 18-year-old with everything ahead of them from doing what I did then I have achieved more than I have done in my life to date.

Let me put it straight I'm a mid-20s male who held a highly respected and educated job. People can say that if that was the case how can I possibly got into the situation that I did. But that's the problem with gambling addiction, once you know that you are addicted it's too late.

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The 2010 British Gambling Prevalence Survey showed 73pc of adults in Great Britain had gambled in 2010, that is about 35.5 million adults. About 1pc to 2pc of gamblers are found to be problem gamblers, making 355,000 to 710,000 adults with a form of gambling addiction. This small group has been shown to generate 30pc to 60pc of revenues for casinos and businesses. This has only risen over the years if you look at the latest statistics published by the gambling commission saw the gross gambling yield for remote betting casino market rise to £4,461,260,000 (October 2015 to Sept 2016) a near 5pc increase from the previous year, it does not take a rocket scientist to see that there will be a correlation with this and an increase in problem gamblers.

Gamcare, a charity whom I reached out to, released figures from their last annual report which support this increase, such as total answered calls increased by 14pc to 46,851. The main gambling activities disclosed by callers were machines in betting shops (23pc), online betting (16pc) and online casino games (11pc). The main gambling facilities (locations) disclosed were online (49pc), followed by betting shops (37pc).

I have also seen arguments that well the club sells alcohol of which you can become addicted too what's the difference why moan? But there is. If you have one too many while enjoying your Saturday afternoon, you have the nice and friendly member of the Norwich City staff who will happily escort you from the premise, or the local landlord who may tell you that you have had too much to drink, the trouble is that also at some stage your body will tell you that you have had too much and you won't drink anymore, well at least until you have sobered up and maybe you have spent £100 if not slightly more. The difference with gambling is that it is accessible 24/7, especially being online, you can place a bet anywhere in the world from your phone. You aren't being monitored by a steward in high vis, and unlike the example before you will spend far more as your brain experiences the endorphin highs when you see that roulette wheel spin or the slot machine wheels roll, in fact you probably won't stop until you have nothing left, because you are in deep and you are adamant that you will win what you have lost back, when you have some more fund available you will just do it again the next day or maybe in a week.

To say that seeing such a company on the shirt of Norwich City does send shivers down my spine, when I went to my first game seven years ago little did I know the pain and depression in which i would suffer, please don't let our younger fans fall foul of this too. Please reconsider your sponsorship.

I have lost my job, lost relationships, been declared bankrupt please don't let this happen to our fans even if it is just one.

It's true what they say the house always wins, but please don't let them win this time.

Your sincerely

A recovering gambling addict NCFC fan.