LIKE a cathode-ray glutton with a banquet of big games laid out before me, I have watched every single moment of Euro 2020 and so far, it has been a remarkable feast of drama.

The near-death experience of the Danish footballer Christian Eriksen was an astonishing moment of sporting television and leaving aside the thorny question about how long cameras should have focused on events, it will become a landmark moment for health and wellbeing across society.

Although the tournament began with disputes about how to demonstrate on behalf of racial justice it may well end up being a tournament that advances public health.

One positive outcome will be that the need for defibrillators will cascade down from the tournament to non-professional sport. Numerous amateur clubs across Scotland have already launched fund-raisers to pay for pitch side defibrillators. Eriksen’s trauma has already triggered a debate about the risk of cardiac arrest at sporting events and will be forever etched on the minds of his teammates as a ­moment when the glamour and ­camaraderie of the big tournament nearly ended in death.

We do not know yet whether Eriksen’s collapse will galvanise Denmark and ­carry them to greatness at the Euros, a trophy they famously won in 1992, arriving as late entrants because of the war in Yugoslavia, or whether they will simply leave the stage with their dignity intact happy that Eriksen is stabil in hospital.

One of the first players to show his support for the ailing Eriksen was the remarkable Romelu Lukaku of Belgium who plays his club football alongside ­Eriksen at Inter Milan and on scoring for Belgium ran to the cameras, kissed the lens, and whispered, “I Love You Chris”.

Lukaku is one of my favourites at the tournament in part because of a painfully honest insight he once gave to living in poverty the concrete ghettos of Antwerp where he was born to immigrant parents from Africa. It was a public statement about child poverty that had all the ­emotional resonance of Marcus Rashford’s campaign.

If Euro 2020 has raised awareness of the need for defibrillators at all competitive levels of sport, one area of public health that the tournament has worsened, and which deserves wider condemnation, is the scourge of online betting.

I cannot remember a time when ­gambling has featured so prominently at a major event and where companies have deployed free-apps, online cross-promotion and straight forward television advertising to such a questionable extent.

There was once a time when Ofcom was stricter on adverts that tried to ­corral the content of the shows that commercials appeared around but that seems to have ­faded and betting companies ­brazenly ­offer odds of games coming up.

Euro 2020 has become a hive for ­online gambling. The ITV/STV commercial breaks have been riddled with ads for gambling and thus far I have seen direct links of apps on offer from Virgin Bet, Betfred, Paddy Power, Bet 365, William Hill and the Scottish branded McBookie. All variously claim they are committed to responsible gambling whilst offering inducements to connect their app to your bank account.

VirginBet are currently using Twitter ads to offer free bets on scores and goal scorers including the extra motivating ­bonus of £5 every time England score against Scotland. William Hill have ­Scotland as rank outsiders at 120-1. For more than one reason I hope it is a ­promotion that failed ignominiously but I am always ­reminded of the old adage – you rarely see a poor bookie.

Although it is not uniquely football’s fault, the dark rise of online gambling will become its problem and Uefa need to curb the association as speedily as they can.

Online websites have made it more accessible for people to gamble and, as a result, problems of debt, depression and mental illness have soared across Europe.

Although the old bookies of yesterday are still out there decaying on old street corners, there is now no need to visit a casino or betting shop to gamble – it can be done from anywhere and at any time. The cost of setting up an online company is a fraction of what it would be to set up a traditional bricks and mortar bookies and there is no longer any need to entice ­customers with betting machines, flat screen television and stubbed pencils.

Online gambling companies have another powerful rationale – they can nest in low or no-tax countries and shift elsewhere if there is a threat to profits. The last time I looked Gibraltar was a popular place for gambling companies to be registered but it will not be the only place.

Beware the word free when it comes to online betting it is closer to a bait than a gift.

WE are on the cusp of the worst ever levels of online gambling add­iction. Data collected from the Gambling Commission, the body responsible for gambling regulation, has shown that the pandemic has had an unpredicted impact. Whilst live sport including horse racing closed, online virtual sports betting increased by 88%t and online poker by 5%. Lockdown caused many issues and releasing boredom by online gameplay and gambling is one of them.

Set against the financial clout of the gambling industry, the regulator faces a tough task. One area where they are making progress is in cases where customers have been able to spend many thousands of pounds in short periods, without any checks. In a recent case brought to the regulator, a customer lost £4000 in six minutes following sign-up.

When it comes to gambling online, bank accounts are easily accessible with just the click of a button, making it much more likely that gamblers will impulse bet and chase their losses.

A major problem with gambling online is that it can be kept secret. In the past, a gambler would have had to visit a betting shop, which were usually synonymous with older working-class men, and the more run-down corners of main streets. Now it is possible to gamble while at work, on the bus, or in the home. The outcome has been an inevitable demographic shift, online gamblers are younger, and more are women.

One of the more insidious offers online is that that many apps or sites offer “free to play” versions of their games, where members play with pretend money. The odds are stacked in the players favour provoking the delusion that the game can be won with real money too. However, when the real game starts, the odds will change and always be in favour of the house.

Scotland has a good track record in tackling problems that impinge on public health. Smoking in public places feels like a relic from a past age and the early signs are that the minimum alcohol pricing policies are having an impact too. ­Unfortunately, online gambling addiction will not be nearly as easy to tackle nor is it as simple as repatriating powers from Westminster.

A local council or a national government can put pressure on bricks and mortar businesses, but the deregulated internet is far harder.

Governments can be highly effective at raising awareness through national campaigns and Euro 2020 will be the catalyst that will make defibrillators a standard accessory across sport.

Reversing the alarming rise of online betting will be a much harder enterprise but it is a mountain we must climb.