Major League Soccer’s (MLS) Chicago Fire FC is the first US soccer club to deliver problem gambling and gaming awareness sessions to teams throughout its organization via a partnership with EPIC Risk Management and Entain Foundation US, Entain plc’s non-profit, safer gambling and sports integrity subsidiary.
Epic Risk Management will lead sessions with the Chicago Fire’s U-13s through to the U-19s, plus the first team. Each session will be appropriately tailored for the varied audience and age groups through the club’s roster, covering issues such as problem gaming, disordered gambling and sports betting integrity.
Delivery of these sessions will begin in May and continue throughout 2021, aiming to provide continued support across Chicago Fire’s Performance, Advisory and Support Services (PASS) program. Due to COVID-19, sessions will take place via videoconference and move to in-person sessions when safely allowed.
Brian Roberts, Director of PASS at Chicago Fire FC, stated: “We know that young athletes are at greater risk of being affected by problematic gaming and gambling, and we recognize the need to take a proactive approach to educating our players and parents on these risks.
“The real-life stories that EPIC Risk Management use in their educational sessions brings focus to gambling in a way that will have a true impact and will provide our Academy players with the understanding needed to make informed decisions. We are excited to work with an organization open to customizing an approach to educating our Academy players.”
John Millington, VP of US Operations at EPIC Risk Management, added: “We are delighted to be able to work closely with Chicago Fire and their Performance, Advisory, and Support Services staff to customize our program to integrate into their existing PASS Education.
“Our collaboration with the Entain Foundation US represents a key strategic piece of our prevention pillar. It is essential that professional sports teams and leagues recognize a collective responsibility to educate their players, staff, and their fan base, and we are delighted Chicago Fire have proactively embraced the importance of integrating this market leading education into their existing programs. I hope many more teams will follow their lead.”
Martin Lycka, Entain plc’s Senior Vice President for American Regulatory Affairs and Responsible Gambling, and trustee of the Entain Foundation US, noted: “This new partnership among Chicago Fire FC, EPIC Risk Management and the Entain Foundation US is another important milestone in promoting player protection and responsible gambling – a top priority of our Foundation. I am proud to affiliate our Foundation in the US with these two outstanding partners.”
To date, EPIC Risk Management and the Entain Foundation US have launched collaborations with the NFLPA Professional Athletes Foundation, colleges across the US, and the Division on Addiction at Cambridge Health Alliance, a Harvard Medical School teaching hospital, on research into elite athletes’ relationships with problematic gambling behavior.