EPIC adds to lived experience roster with midfielder Dominic Matteo
Source: EPIC Global Solutions

Lived experience is a significant element of gambling harm prevention, particularly on the player education side. As the industry continues to grow internationally, the concept is taking on increased importance across various countries.

The idea of lived experience is nothing new, but it has become increasingly prominent in the UK over recent years, particularly in the context of gambling legislative reviews. Sports figures who have suffered from gambling addiction are important to this.

EPIC Global Solutions, a gambling harm consultancy group, is notably active in this area. The group’s athlete portfolio was further enlarged this week with the addition of Dominic Matteo, former Scotland international midfielder and Premier League player with Liverpool, Leeds United and Blackburn Rovers.

His career was marred by a gambling addiction, leading to him being declared bankrupt. This lived experience will inform Matteo’s work with EPIC as a programme facilitator, working with the consultancy to engage with English Football League (EFL), Scottish Premier Football League (SPFL) and Premiership rugby clubs, as well as horse racing trainers and owners.

“Having had issues with gambling, it’s something that I’m very, very passionate about, so to receive the call from EPIC was lovely news,” Matteo remarked.

“Everyone at EPIC knows what they want to do in order to prevent gambling-related harm and it’s important that we keep doing that to make it a better place for everyone. I will be trying to help as many people as I can who are in a similar position to what I was in. I fell down that trap and I don’t want it to happen to anyone else.

“I’m excited at heading back to the training grounds because I understand what a dressing room is like and it’s very important that we get the word across. As a younger player, there wasn’t really that much information around about gambling, so getting my voice across to help people who think they haven’t got a problem, and preventing it before it does become a problem, is key for me.”

Formerly operating as EPIC Risk Management, EPIC Global Solutions initiated a rebrand earlier this year to reflect its international scope. Originating in the UK, the company has expanded its activity to North America, where betting markets have been developing rapidly since 2018 in the US and 2022 in Canada.

Lived experience is essential to all of this, regarding both athletes and non-athletes and their experience of problem gambling. At the recent Canadian Gaming Summit (CGS), for example, Dave Sponson, the group’s Head of Safer Gambling, emphasised that “quite often what we find is that the lived experience that we have gives an insight or window into  a person’s mentality”.

Outside of adding athletes to its portfolio of facilitators, EPIC is also actively engaged with the sporting space. In the UK this has seen work with the Scottish Professional Football League (SPFL), whilst US partners include the Major League Soccer Players Association (MLSPA) and Major League Baseball (MLB).

Commenting on Matteo’s addition to EPIC, Paul Buck, the consultancy’s CEO, said: “Dominic Matteo is someone who commanded respect in some of the UK’s most revered dressing rooms, and we’re delighted that he’ll now be speaking face-to-face with the new occupants of those locations via his new role with EPIC.

“It’s clear that he has quite a remarkable story to share about how gambling started to take a hold on his life during his playing career and then had such challenging consequences for him in retirement.

“Both he and his wife Jess, who will be accompanying Dominic to each session, have clearly been through a lot together, so we’re expecting that his talks with some of the country’s best-known sports stars will be very impactful in sharing our core message about the risks that problem gambling can bring.”

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