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Paul Merson to front BBC One documentary exploring gambling addiction in football

Paul Merson

Paul Merson will front a new BBC One documentary about gambling addiction in football.

Provisionally titled Paul Merson: Football, Gambling And Me, the one-off hour-long film will see the former Arsenal and England legend reflect on his own experiences as a recently reformed gambling addict.

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The BBC share: "In this first-person account, Paul sets out to understand why his life has been so badly blighted by gambling, and explores the relationship between football and gambling at a time when it’s never been more urgent to question the industry’s place in the world of sport.

"Paul is now on the path to recovery, but he wants to understand the triggers that have led to his addiction. To do this, he’s undergoing therapy and meeting scientists who have brand new theories in addiction science.

"And whilst the government moots the question of whether gambling laws should be changed, Paul wonders if an entire generation of young Brits is at risk of following the same, dangerous path that he trod. Advertising and sponsorship by betting firms has exploded; the industry now spends £1.5 billion a year on advertising, with 80 percent of all gambling marketing spend now online."

Paul said: "If this film helps just one other person affected by the issue of problem gambling, it’s been worthwhile."

Jack Bootle, Head of Commissioning, Natural History and Science at the BBC, commented: "Watching England reach the finals of the Euros has been a dream come true. But, as we watch, it's impossible to escape the constant marketing campaigns from the betting industry.

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"With fans and players at risk of being drawn into addiction, it's the perfect time for Paul to explore the uncomfortable relationship between football and the gambling industry - and ask if it needs to change."

An air date for the series is to be announced.

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