Arsene Wenger: Gambling is 'immoral' and should be banned from society
LONDON -- While betting companies have a massive presence in football these days, Arsene Wenger would like to see gambling banned completely from society.
The influence of betting companies has been a topic of debate this week after Burnley midfielder Joey Barton was banned for 18 months for breaking the Football Association's rules on gambling.
Barton admitted to having a gambling addiction after the verdict was made public, and criticised the FA for allowing betting adverts to be placed on TV, in stadiums and on team shirts.
Wenger did not argue against Barton's ban, but agreed with the player that there is a bigger problem to be addressed.
"Society is absolutely like that today. They encourage you to bet, but if you bet you're punished," Wenger told a news conference.
Wenger said that he would support a complete ban on gambling -- not just in football but in society as a whole.
Asked later to explain why, Wenger said: "Because I find it immoral that a guy who works like mad from morning to evening, and people who study and go to university, they work day and night. And after, somebody who does nothing and plays the right numbers, he wins £100 million. How can you defend that?"
Betting on sports is a massive business in Britain, with millions regularly placing wagers on football, horse racing, cricket, golf and other events.
Like most top clubs, Arsenal have a sponsorship deal with an official betting partner and regularly promote the company's offers on social media and the club website.
But Wenger argued that betting only rewards luck rather than merit.
"Yes, people enjoy it, but is it moral that a nurse in the hospital doesn't make any money and the guy who plays the right numbers makes £100m?" he said. "How can you defend that? If you want to encourage a society on merit, it's indefensible."
Mattias is ESPN FC's Arsenal correspondent. Follow him on Twitter: @MattiasKaren.