IF I had a pound for every time someone told me I was wasting my time gambling on sport, well, the losses accrued over an adult lifetime wouldn’t be quite as severe.

I’ve no idea how much I’ve spent betting since I first got my hands on a fixed-odds coupon when I was 17 and thought choosing one result from every section looked a sure-fire way to make easy cash. The outlay will be 10s of thousands of pounds, certainly. Enough to buy a fancy car if that’s your thing. Or a lifetime supply of Freddo bars if you’re more practical-minded.

Similarly, I couldn’t say how much I’ve won in that time. A fraction of what I’ve spent, certainly. Not enough to retire on, alas. And more’s the pity.

In truth, the figures are insignificant. Without being blasé about those kinds of sums, it has had very little impact on the rest of my life. From those early days as a student to my working life now, everything has been done in relative moderation. Bet what can you afford. And step away if you feel it’s getting out of control.

There have been one or two occasions when the heart beats that little bit faster as you place your stake. A feeling that it’s more than you would normally be willing to risk but it’s the right bet at the right time. The feeling of self-loathing would last for hours, even days, if that gamble didn’t come off. And even in victory relief rather than delirium was usually the overriding emotion.

The advent of online gambling has simplified things, removed a few steps in the process that in the olden days served as a handbrake for the rational thinker. Now it is just numbers on a phone, not bank notes in your hand, that are needed to place a bet. But the same attitude applies. Act sensibly and delete the apps if you find yourself betting impulsively rather than logically.

For most people, though, it remains a hobby rather than a lifestyle. The thrill in gambling is not always sparked by the possibility of winning money. Although that helps. It is more about the challenge of trying to outsmart the bookmakers, to demonstrate your sporting knowledge is greater than theirs. That, for many, is the essence of gambling.

The size of the stake is almost secondary to the chance to be proved correct. If it’s just about trying to win no matter what then throw all your money away on a roulette wheel.

Having a bet is an integral part of British football culture. Go for a couple of pre-match pints, pop into the bookies next door to stick a line on, and then head to the game. There was something almost cathartic about the communal shredding of coupons as the full-time results came through on the radio or over the stadium Tannoy, a paper tickertape of failure fluttering through the night sky.

And if you won, then hands would be rubbed in joy at the prospect of that night’s takeaway being taken care of. And the first round back in the pub was always on you.

Gambling is not an illness, as was disingenuously stated on the radio recently by someone desperate to ascend to the moral high ground in light of Brian Rice’s admission that he had suffered a relapse in his ongoing battle with gambling addiction.

In Rice’s situation – and others like him – it is an illness that needs to be treated appropriately. His club Hamilton Accies have handled the situation with compassion and understanding.

But, mercifully, this is behaviour seen in only a very small minority. Just as someone who likes a glass of wine of a Friday night wouldn’t be classed as an alcoholic, then the weekend gambler is not in need of any sort of intervention. And the vilification of those who like an occasional bet has gone too far.

The backlash goes on. On the back of Ladbrokes choosing not to renew their sponsorship of the SPFL, William Hill similarly announced on Friday that they would not be extending their partnership with the Scottish Cup beyond the end of the season.

The reasons for those decisions have not yet been publicly aired and maybe never will. But there are more than a few seemingly already happy to see the back of bookies’ involvement in Scottish football.

That’s either because of the apparent incongruity of having betting logos on football strips worn by players who aren’t allowed to bet or because it could influence children or other vulnerable members of society. Remember, these are betting firms, not money launderers or human traffickers.

Still, be careful what you wish for. With two of the game’s title sponsors heading for the hills and the third – Betfred – likely to be chased out of town at some point, too, the race is on to find their replacements. And there doesn’t seem to be a huge rush of more ethical or green companies desperate to throw their money into Scottish football.

Bookmakers make enough money to not need anyone’s sympathy. But don’t stigmatise the honest punter along with them.