The ‘Football Fans and Betting’ Project: Challenges and Lessons Learned from an Early Intervention for Male Sports Bettors

Biggar, B. , Wardle, H. and Reith, G. (2023) The ‘Football Fans and Betting’ Project: Challenges and Lessons Learned from an Early Intervention for Male Sports Bettors. 16th European Public Health Conference, Dublin, Ireland, 9-11 November 2023.

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Background: Sports betting is a growth area for the gambling industry with football fans becoming a key target of advertising. This demographic is also one at elevated risk from gambling harm. This paper reflects on the NIHR-funded Football Fans and Betting project (FFAB) – an innovative early health intervention with football fans (aged 18-55) who gamble regularly to reduce their betting. Methods: We will present findings from interviews and observations to reflect on the delivery of our 8-week intervention delivered by 4 clubs’ Community Trust Coaches - Leicester, Preston North End, Accrington Stanley, and Blackpool. Planned as a feasibility study and pilot RCT, FFAB’s feasibility learnings led to the development of a different model than originally proposed. Results: Preliminary findings suggest (1) there is a clear need for an early health intervention for men looking to reduce their betting. (2) Overcoming shame and stigma are significant barriers to recruitment in a study like this. (3) Conducting independent research with football clubs, given their complex sponsorship arrangements, presents multiple challenges. (4) relatedly, while recruitment was easier in smaller more locally rooted clubs, they faced more challenges for resources which led to difficulties with retention on the programme. Conclusions: FFAB is the first intervention of its kind and has lessons for interventions with underserved groups more widely. We identified the need for more focused pre-recruitment work on changing understandings of gambling through public health-focused education. We believe more recognition and visibility of a public health approach to gambling in the wider population would help to de-stigmatise language and discussion of gambling and lessen the challenges of engaging our target group. We recommend a more grassroots, localised approach to future early health interventions of this nature. In doing so, we believe that we could minimise many of the challenges we faced in delivery.

Item Type:Conference or Workshop Item
Keywords:gambling, sport, intervention.
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Wardle, Professor Heather and Reith, Professor Gerda and Biggar, Dr Blair
Authors: Biggar, B., Wardle, H., and Reith, G.
College/School:College of Social Sciences > School of Social and Political Sciences > Sociology Anthropology and Applied Social Sciences

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Project CodeAward NoProject NamePrincipal InvestigatorFunder's NameFunder RefLead Dept
304799Football and gambling: a feasibility study and pilot for an intervention to reduce gambling involvement among football fansGerda ReithNational Institute for Health Research (NIHR)NIHR127665SHW - Health Economics & Health Technology Assessment