Jeff joins The Big Step walk to help kick harmful gambling out of sport

Jeff Smith, Labour MP for Manchester Withington, has today joined a Covid-friendly walking event organised by The Big Step.

The Big Step is a charity project founded in 2019 by Manchester-based James Grimes, who has experienced gambling addiction, and the charity Gambling with Lives.

The Big Step advocate for a public health approach to preventing gambling harm through campaigning, education and awareness work. In the past they have:

  • Walked hundreds of miles to football clubs for Big Step events.
  • Handed a signed letter to Downing Street calling on the government to end gambling advertising and sponsorship in football.
  • Developed education and signposting partnerships with football clubs.

The group want to see an end to gambling advertising, sponsorship and promotion in football. They are also working with football clubs to deliver preventative education, awareness and signposting in their community.

Jeff met project founder James to walk part of the route together to Old Trafford. The campaign’s supporters are collectively aiming to walk 1137 miles – the same distance it would take to visit every football club in England, Wales and Scotland that has listed an official club gambling sponsor or partner.

You can sign the group’s petition here. They are also calling on supporters to contribute to the Government’s Review of the Gambling Act, and have produced guidance on submitting evidence here. The call for evidence ends on 31st March 2021.

Jeff said:

“Gambling addiction is destroying lives here in Manchester and across the whole country, and gambling promotion has a damaging grip on football. Betting companies promote some dangerously addictive gambling products, and I hear regularly about the damage they do to the lives of constituents. Football does so much good for fans’ lives but pushing addictive and harmful gambling products without proper warning of the risks is a dangerous blind spot.

“It’s great to be out supporting James with his campaign today. There should be no place for gambling advertising or sponsorship in football – we are at risk of normalising addictive online gambling as part of sport for a generation of Impressionable young fans, with dangerous consequences for their lives.”

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