Wenger: Society has a problem with betting


Arsene Wenger has hit out at the ubiquity of betting advertising across football and in society after being asked about Joey Barton’s 18 month ban from the game this week.

The Burnley midfielder was punished by the FA after accepting charges that accused him of having placed 1,260 bets on football matches between 2006 and 2013.

He released a statement about it on his own website, but it looks as if this ban will more or less end his career.

The Arsenal manager’s opinion on the matter was sought at his press conference today, and as ever his views touched the wider issue rather than just Barton.

“It is a little bit I must say the general problem in our society,” he said.

“You you have everywhere, on every advert, bet … bet on Sky … bet on here and there, so you have not to be surprised when people get addicted to betting.

“It’s like smoking or alcohol, if you don’t want people to drink, you don’t sell alcohol.

“It’s the same if you don’t want people to bet, you don’t make betting official. But everywhere you incite people to bet.

“So out of a hundred people, five of them get addicted and bet, so if you don’t want to have that problem you forbid betting.

“That I would support personally, completely in society.”

Asked if football could do more about the issue, he continued, “No, I think football tackles the problem very well, but if you have some people who are addicted they are addicted, and they get punished for it.

“It’s natural, if you don’t observe the rules, you get punished.”

It’s becoming more and more clear that football and betting are now inextricably linked, ads at half-time, easier ways to bet via apps promoted by official club channels (not just Arsenal), and so on.

And when you think about Sky Bet, owned by the same people who broadcast football, and the way they operate it really doesn’t sit right. Imagine Sky Sports ‘sources’ breaking a transfer rumour, then urging people to bet on those rumours etc. It’s a very thin line.

Update: Thanks to Richard who emailed me to say Sky Bet was bought by a Japanese firm who retained the name.

There’s no excusing what Barton did, he knew the rules and broke them, but as Wenger said we shouldn’t be surprised that he developed a problem, and you can be quite sure he’s not alone.

Paul Merson infamously fell foul of a gambling addiction, and maybe there ought to be a bit more thought put into what football gets out of betting, rather than what the betting companies rake in from football fans.

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Lord Bendtner

Spot on. It’s quite hypocritical to have these huge betting companies advertising all the time


There you go guys. Paddy power pants has spoken.

Too Drunk To Be Offside

There can be an advertising ban, even if betting itself is still allowed. Besides more than advertising the rules regarding betting should be simple – for any sportsman no betting on a competition you or the team you play for are involved in. So for example, lets say Sanchez wanted to bet, then this season he could not bet on any aspect of EPL, UCL, League Cup and FA Cup, or any game of Colombia’s he was in the squad for. It would involve not just matches but also transfer related or manager related bets. He would still be free… Read more »

Joe Cloggs

In England there is a total ban on any professional player betting on any football match or football market anywhere in the world, including all leagues, competitions etc, It has been in place since August 2014. Similar rules already apply in rugby, cricket and other team sports.


Betting – you are practically guaranteed to lose over time, that’s why the betting companies can do so much sponsorship. A friend of mine lost so much that he is with us no more. Only bet what you can afford to lose. Or think of other ways to spend your cash.

Lord Bendtner

Or don’t bet at all


I learned long ago that all the multi-billion dollar casinos in Vegas don’t just build themselves. The house ultimately wins

TR7 > CR7

I can’t remember disagreeing with Arsene on many things, but this I do.

Betting is a bit of a mug’s game I admit, but shouldn’t you be allowed to do what you want with your money? Surely you don’t deserve to be fined/jailed when you’re not doing anyone else any harm.

Like with alcohol, it’s my liver to ruin and it’s my bank balance to ruin.

Although, I would be in favour of banning betting ads… And alcohol ads for that matter.


I really thought wenger was better than this. Most people love to tell other people in society what to do, what should and shouldn’t be allowed. Just because you dont agree with or understand something doesn’t mean someone else shouldn’t do it or be banned from doing. Yet these same people are never seen actually helping the people they pretend to care about. Wenger sounds like a rich politician saying people doing what they want with their own money is a bad thing.


Yet the irony of your statement is how you fail to understand that highly influential sports broadcasters and clubs are urging/telling you to spend your hard earned money on gambling!!

Be proud to have a man at the helm who has the integrity to raise the bigger issue when asked about certain topics.

Betting and football should not be joined at the hip – as they are so today.


Where did I fail to understand that betting companies advertise themselves? Of course they would.
I think a bigger problem society has is always blaming the “big man in a suit”. No self responsibility. Seeing an advertisement doesnt destroy your free will does it. Whoever gambles is solely responsible for them gambling. Not an advertisement.
Too many betting adverts is a lot better than stopping people from doing as they wish. However much you think you are acting in their interest.

Bould\'s Eyeliner

Based on this comment string, Adams, I can only think that you have never experienced physiological addiction. It’s crippling, and an advert is enough to trigger a gambling craving. Sometimes the movies exaggerate a lot of things, but unfortunately, gambling isn’t really one of them. There’s nothing wrong with maintaining gambling as an institution. If you live in a major metropolis like London, I would assume even with the state ban on gambling, there would be plenty of betting houses you could go to. It’s far more effective for the state to tax gambling heavily, and gambling earnings heavily, if… Read more »

I\'m Professor Ignorance, on this subject

It’s not just their own interest if they’ve a family, and gambling addiction is a real thing, so it’s not just all down to free will, either. And stopping people from doing as they wish is entirely reasonable in plenty of situations,which you surely agree with, having just demanded that others refrain from stopping people from gambling because its their own money and life and no harm will every possibly come from it.* * Despite it being an industry that includes increased suicide rates as a consequence of its existence, and that suicides echo down generations as the effects they… Read more »

a different George

I am against banning cigarettes, but I believe it is entirely appropriate to ban all cigarette advertisements, to require plain packaging (or even negative packaging), and to require cigarette vendors to keep the product out of plain sight.

Gambling is not entirely the same, but the logic is the same: the idea that advertising and social pressure do not influence decisions is absurd. Supporting “personal responsibility” should not be used as an excuse for societal abdication of responsibility.

Ozil\'s Eyes

Financial ruin and intoxication/liver disease also affects the people dependent on the person, and may also drive the victim into rash behavior.

There’s some basis in society’s consternation regarding betting amd drinking, I think.

TR7 > CR7

That’s a good point, an alcoholic’s dependants are also affected I agree, but even still, I don’t think you would advocate a blanket ban on alcohol.

At the end of the day, I’d like adults to get a shot at making their own decisions.

However, never mind just stopping the advertisements, as with smoking, there should really be infomercials about the risks involved with both gambling & alcohol.


Actually, the argument used against this is that it is addicting, and it may ruin not just your life, but that of your family as well. Also, betting isn’t really something that “adds to the economy”, so as a government, you might want to clamp down on betting and try to make that money do more. It’s just another way to govern. No need to be butthurt over it.


Bit surprised to see this comment getting so many downvotes. Is the arseblog readership so opposed to personal freedom? Wenger is advocating banning gambling outright, which is pretty bloody extreme.

Bould\'s Eyeliner

^This–people are being a bit testy about a statement from a man who has no power over such issues.

Crash Fistfight

Yes, but disagreeing with someone’s opinion doesn’t mean you don’t think that person should be allowed an opinion altogether. Nobody has advocated censorship of Arsene Wenger here – beef and TR7 > CR7 just disagree with his stance of banning gambling completely. I’m all for banning the advertising. I dislike gambling and bookmakers, but not everyone that gambles is addicted, much the same way that not everyone that drinks is an alcoholic. It’s a bit of a confusing issue, because people can waste their money on all kinds of things, but you wouldn’t advocate banning adverts for fashion, holidays, computer… Read more »


Governments all around the world ban different things for different reasons. Nothing wrong with his personal opinion that gambling should be banned. Sports betting is largely illegal here in the US, but that wouldn’t stop me from wagering on a match if I really cared to. There’s always a way

Bob McCann

But the thing with alcohol and betting is that it can cause other people harm, not just the one drinking or gambling. Some can control it and others can’t, just like Arsene says.


When I initially started streaming matches, I was surprised at the brazen advertising of betting Companies. Here in India it is outlawed, and is socially frowned upon and (Imo rightly) considered to be a quicker and easier way to ruin your life compared to other vices.


I agree that the ads for betting are over done but I don’t think banning betting is the way forward. The problem is that like booze, if you ban it it’ll just continue underground and controlled by criminals, better to have it controlled and regulated. but the endless ads during matches etc. aren’t good.


It isn’t really controlled or regulated though is it?

Teenagers and young adults are introduced to betting as the norm when watching football games. Why should the sport be plagued with this constant parade of such a negative addictive habit which just ultimately loses people money?

Granite Xahhka

And it’s not as if the dangers of it are really made that clear by anyone involved. There’s this kind of “cheeky chappy” jack the lad image that goes along with gambling in this country and I think that’s a problem.

Merses bookie

I bet Arsene will be at Arsenal next year, that is a problem.

Eric Blair

I’m so glad this is coming up, and is another reason I hold Wenger in such high regard. The gambling industry has found a way to make itself synonymous with football, which is a dangerous path for football to go. I moved to and live in a country with a very different attitude to gambling and there are more government restrictions and when I watch footy on UK TV the exposure to gambling advertisement is frankly bonkers and always draws comments from friends here. Blogs is also part of that with some betting association you can see on the website… Read more »

Lord Bendtner

Gotta agree with you there. I’m one of those extremists who thinks Alcohol and Betting advertisements should be banned. It’s my own opinion based on personal grounds.
In my country, alcohol advertising was banned, so they started advertising “Club Soda” brands. It’s quite funny really


Sounds quite extreme but when you brake it down, why should people be allowed to ‘publicly’ promote something which could harm you?

That is a fault of the regulatory bodies and the government.


A whole generation is growing up thinking that betting on football is a normal activity that everyone is encouraged to get involved in. That suits the betting companies AND ABSOLUTELY NOBODY ELSE. It’s as though we have delivered our beautiful game into the hands of the devil.

Özil Gummidge

I’d love to have a good old chat with Ray Winstone and ask him about this “gambling responsibly” nonsense. It’s an oxymoron, especially against bookies. I consider doing those ads as acts of treachery against the working class. Yes some punters are not working class but overall it contributes to inequality. More money in corporate hands. For a gambling addict, watching football on TV must be hell. Football is big business and nothing will change without major changes to society and culture. Wenger is at least right to point out this is a bigger problem than one footballer or any… Read more »


A tenner says the FA won’t do anything about it…


I’m not against betting per se, but definitely think it should be more strictly regulated, and could live without the constant ads. I think people will look back on Paddy Power’s campaigns the same way as Joe Camel or the Marlboro Man.

When obscure foreign football teams trend on twitter because they’ve ruined people’s accumulators it makes you wonder if there’s an epidemic.

Kenyan Gooner

In Kenya, Sportpesa is the largest betting company. They average punter on Sportpesa will always bet less than £1. From that Sportpesa is able to collect enough money to be able to be Arsenal’s official betting partner and Hull City’s shirt sponsor. It is not uncommon to hear about suicides from people betting £200/£300 and losing. It is a national epidemic here and I am certain that this is the case in many other places around the world.


how else do you think they can pay such big money to clubs now for TV rights,its not all coming from sky subscriptions its from sponsorship which is mainly from betting groups, another reason they can alter fixtures at short notice without giving 2 fucks to the fans who have to make arrangements at great cost its a captive market for them onlly ones guaranteed a win every time


For what it’s worth, 3 of Arsenal’s regional partners are betting companies. 12BET, Betfair and Tempobet.

Granite Xahhka

It really bothers me now that rather than getting to watch the players shake hands on BT we cut to Ray Winston’s massive noggin to remind us to put a bit of money on the game if we hadn’t already. Call me old fashioned, but I liked watching the handshakes.


Joey Barton is a massive genital wart so I’m very upset the betting companies distracted from the inglorious end to the Piers Morgan of football’s end.


Football has long been beholden to gambling.

Why do you think it’s taken the fat cats so long to implement video review into the game?

Surely removing an element of complete randomness was always in everybody’s best inter… oh.


Society should have a problem with Joey Barton.

Instead media outlets love to promote mediocre players with questionable morals let alone judgement.

Robbie Savage, Michael Owen come to mind, the later was a goal machine but not much between the ears.