The ever-changing landscape around sports gambling in the USA is set to provide fresh challenges to professional athletes but John Millington is confident a new advisory board will help players steer clear of danger.

Sports betting has been legalised across the majority of US states since the repeal of PASPA in 2018 and the NFL Players’ Association are among the bodies to be part of EPIC Risk Management’s newly-launched Pro Sport Advisory Board.

Millington, EPIC’s US senior vice-president, is a founding member of the board, which will see industry representatives from across the US, UK and Ireland join forces to educate players on gaming and gambling harm.

“The US market is a very nascent market in terms of gambling and certainly sports betting,” he said.

“It’s our mission to bring together the stakeholders in the US to ensure that problem gambling and harm prevention increases at the same rate as the gambling market itself.

“Problem gambling and gambling harm doesn’t discriminate. It can happen to anybody, anywhere around the world.

“Our programmes are designed to be able to move globally and break those borders.

“The key thing for us is that we are ensuring we understand the environments we are going into.

“With the US market being so nascent, and the understanding around gambling harm being fairly new, we know there is a responsibility to start to educate stakeholders to understand the risks and how to ensure they are minimising those.

“The NFL Players’ Association is probably the first association in the US to really take this seriously and embrace their responsibility to reduce problem gambling and gambling harm for their athletes and it is great to have them represented.”

The global collective is made up of leading names from organisations representing professional sports players, eSports experts and gambling industry leaders, who will share best practice, highlight concerns and shape policy through their experience in gambling, gaming, eSports, integrity, athlete welfare and lived experience.

It has been brought together by leading gambling harm minimisation consultancy EPIC Risk Management, which employs a number of current and former professional sports stars as facilitators in their worldwide training and education programmes to warn players across multiple sports of the heightened risk of gaming and gambling addiction in their sector.
“What makes you an exceptional athlete – that competitive nature and will to win – also makes you a significantly high-risk gambler,” added Millington, a former personal development manager with the Rugby Players’ Association (RPA).

“A lot of athletes, even when they’re losing, still think they can chase that win, which can be one of the most dangerous things when it comes to gambling.

“Lived experience underpins everything we do at EPIC and we are not doing this on a hunch.

“Hearing those lived experience stories gives the athlete an opportunity to identify elements of their own story and lifestyle they can resonate with and better understand where those risks start to occur.
“I’m excited about how much more strength this advisory board will bring to our ability to minimise gambling harm and protect athletes from that.”

EPIC Risk Management Pro Sport Advisory Board. The world’s first panel looking into gaming and gambling harm minimisation for elite sport.