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Ex-addict McConville on 'scary' betting culture among our sporting fraternity

By Cate McCurry

Published 06/04/2016

Oisin McConville
Oisin McConville
Cathal McCarron

GAA star Oisin McConville has said there is a gambling culture among sports players and teams - but little long-term support available to addicts.

The Co Armagh man made the comments after former All-Ireland winner Johnny McGurk admitted stealing over half-a-million pounds to fund his gambling addiction.

McConville once amassed huge gambling debts, but has since become an addiction counsellor. The Armagh legend now aims to help at the intervention stage and is often contacted by the concerned families of gambling addicts, as well as those struggling with the problem.

Two years ago Tyrone player Cathal McCarron (right) was at the centre of a controversy after he appeared in a gay pornography video. He, too, struggled with a gambling addiction.

McConville said a lot of people view gambling as a "harmless habit" but said it can spiral out of control.

He said: "When you are in sport you are competitive and there's a lot of trying to beat the bookie in some cases, but I know - and people who went through something similar know - that can't be done.

"There are a lot of teams today where you would find a gambling culture.

"A lot of people still find it's harmless, they don't spend a lot of money and it doesn't cost them a lot of head space.

"Any people I talk to will find that they weren't drinking, because it's easily seen or recognised in performance, while drugs are tested for - so gambling could have started as a harmless habit but it develops and develops and soon you are totally consumed by it. We need to educate people from a young age, because there isn't enough out there at the minute.

"The accessibility to gambling is scary and as a result of that we have introduced a new demographic of people into gambling who never would have gambled and now have an interest in it.

"A lot of people tell me that gambling over the internet feels different, as they don't feel they are handing over real money."

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