For the first time in history, the average annual salary for Premier European footballers has topped £3 million. These earnings are close to SEK 25 million, far more than what a typical Swede might make in a year. Some footballers will end up with a lot of extra cash at their disposal and lavish lifestyles to support. 

Off-season training and recovery from injury can leave players craving the game’s high-adrenaline. Looking ahead to retirement, which on average is at age 35, many players need to find ways to reproduce their lucrative incomes and the rush of the game. This can pave the way to gambling problems and lost money in casinos.

Gambling in Sweden

In Sweden, there are many restrictive rules on licensed online casinos, like time and deposit limits. This is to help mitigate what players might lose or have lost at a casino in the past. 

Many Swedish gamblers look for unlicensed casinos to avoid these limiting measures. Casino ranking sites like Karamba Casino offer insights and lists of the top licensed games available worldwide. 

Gambling in Sweden has been legal for a long time but was monopolised and wholly-owned by the state until recently. A new law passed in 2019 enabled the Swedish Gambling Authority to accept licenses from private investors.

With over ten years of experience in the gambling world, our guest writer Dominic Andreasson is an expert on the subject. You can view his profile here.

Footballers Who’ve Lost Money Gambling

Some players managed to lose all or part of their fortunes to gambling addictions. Who hasn’t been in a casino and lost money? Here are ten top-profile footballers who’ve lost money through gambling and other vices:

  • Eiður Guðjohnsen 

In 2016, rumours were this Icelandic footballer had lost close to SEK 67 million. He became addicted to online gambling and is reported to have lost money after spending two summers in Las Vegas recovering from a severe knee injury. 

  • Michael Chopra

This former Premier League striker told The Guardian that his gambling addiction started when he was just 17. While travelling with his Newcastle United teammates, he bet up to £30,000 daily, close to SEK 336,000, as a bonding ritual. He has testified that eventually, he lost equal to SEK 22 million through gambling. 

  • Kenny Sansom

As a fullback for England, Sansom earned the 2nd highest number of caps. This former Arsenal legend lost his entire fortune to drinking and gambling addictions. In his 2008 autobiography To Cap It All…My Story, Sansom wrote that he visited the bookies almost every day.

  • Keith Gillespie

Gillespie has admitted to losing his entire fortune of more than USD 13 million to gambling and bad investments. That’s equal to more than SEK 145 million! This former Northern Ireland player declared bankruptcy at the age of 35, but his retirement only lasted 7-8 years. In 2020, he joined Mindwell FC, the first football club dedicated to helping people with mental health issues.

  • Paul Merson

A former Arsenal right-winger, Merson fell into serious debt after retirement and even gambled and lost his own house. In one betting frenzy, Merson lost his pension of close to SEK 9 million. Reports note that Merson eventually lost a fortune equal to about SEK 78 million to his various personal demons, including gambling.

  • Matthew Etherington

In 2010, this former West Ham winger admitted to losing close to SEK 17 million to horse betting and poker. Etherington has talked about the common practise of betting up to £20,000 per day, or SEK 224,000, while travelling to away games on the team bus. 

  • Lee Hendrie

This former Aston Villa midfielder faced huge debts and repossessions from gambling and other vices. He was declared bankrupt in 2012.

  • Dominic Matteo

By the time he retired, Matteo had lost up to seven figures worth of money to gambling and racehorse ownership. This former Leeds United captain has said that the anonymity that came with phone and text gambling helped fuel his addiction. 

  • David Bentley

Making up to 100 bets a day on horses, online casinos and dogs, this former England midfielder lost the equivalent to hundreds of thousands of krona. Bentley began gambling at 14 as a player on an Arsenal youth team, visiting betting shops with his dad and friends.

  • Wayne Rooney

This former Manchester United striker reportedly amassed a debt close to SEK 7 million in 2006. His primary gambling addictions were football, dogs and horses.

The Power of Gambling

Gambling can exert a potent and prolonged grip on some players, making it a considerable challenge to quit. With its 24/7 availability and ease of accessibility for younger people, online gambling has the potential for addiction, if not done responsibly.