Readers share their experiences on gambling, how they battled their addiction and how the UK can tackle the problem
The number of British problem gamblers has grown by a third rising to more than 400,000 according to a report by the Gambling Commission.
There has also been an increase in addiction among those who play fixed-odds betting terminals, with some betting shops criticised for allowing customers to spend up to £100 every 20 seconds.
Gambling is the worst addiction there is because it convinces you that you are clever and well informed. It’s also in my opinion a mental illness because most gamblers play to lose which is not rational.
I speak as an ex gambling addict who gave it up when I lost about two year’s wages in about 60 minutes but kept my taxi fare home. That’s when I knew I was out of my mind and that’s when I stopped which was over 50 years ago and I have never bet since.
I had a problem gambling and I am not scared to admit it. To be honest I didn’t see it as mental illness on my part, just a complete lack of willpower. It nearly cost me everything. My wife, god bless her, stuck with me through all the lies and deceipt and everything else that went with it. My sense of guilt will be forever with me. The only way we got round it was for all bank accounts to be put in my wife’s name. She took control of paying all the bills and finances. Since that point I have lived on pocket money. I know for a fact that if we hadn’t done that we wouldn’t be together today. It was a pretty drastic solution but it worked. I know for a fact though that if I found myself with any spare money in my pocket I would still find it difficult to pass a bookies. The temptation is always there . As someone else said, you only ever remember those heady days when you win, and sometimes I won big.Everything else is put out of your mind.
Maybe this isn’t the forum to be so honest and open, there again , nobody knows me . I just hope anybody reading this who thinks they have a problem are honest enough with themselves , confront it, and act to deal with it. You can do it and will feel a massive weight being lifted off your chest.
I do a bit of very light online gambling myself – a couple of quid on an accumulator every Saturday. But when I see how much they allow people to wager on there it’s frightening, especially the casino type games.
The law really needs to get on top of the online format and impose strict low limits on how much can be bet in a single game / day / week etc.
Having had a problem gambler in the family (problems magnified by cocaine, what a great mix) I can say that it is truly awful. I am sure someone will come on here and bang-on about personal responsibility etc but I am afraid that once the habit is entrenched such rational thinking goes out of the window.
The worst part, for me, was the lies and how different family members fell for them. This set those of us with a better grasp of the situation in conflict with those people who were desperate to believe that it was not true. My relationship with my mum has never properly recovered, it remains perpetually damaged by the fall out that came when the pack of lies came out and it was no longer possible to believe him. That’s ten years so far, she is towards the end of her life and beginning to dement, I do not think the relationship will ever recover.
Never thought much of gambling, never been in a betting shop in my life. . Then we got the lottery and I began doing it reguarly, a couple of pounds a week, no big deal, then they introduced the midweek games, so 2 pound became 4; and then they doubled the price so 4 became 8, then I got an online account with minimum in or out of the pot of 10 pounds, so easy to add money, just enter debit card details and top up instantly, soon I was betting 20 to 30 pounds a week. Then my SANITY kicked in, I realised how I had been sucked in. Cancelled my account. I am in a good job so I could afford it but it is still mostly money down the drain, for a small up when you win £2.50. The Government needs to get a grip of gambling before it is too late. The Relaxation of Gambling laws has and will cause more heartache than the relaxation of the drinking hours because outwardly you may not see a problem, only later does the full effects of the addiction hit you and your family
FOBTs are horrific and the statistic on the proportion of users with or at risk of a problem shows how you cannot simply compare them to other optional adult indulgences such as alcohol to put forward an argument of “it’s the individual’s responsibility” – not even close to 40% of people who have an alcohol consumption greater than zero are at risk of becoming alcoholics.
As a recovering gambling addict who lost approximately £60k over 10 years on FOBT machines, I do feel qualified to talk about this subject. Those machines are often called the crack cocaine of gambling and I’ve previously joked that that’s unfair because a crack addiction isn’t as expensive but it’s a serious point. Gambling addiction is not visible in the manner of substance abuse and I know from experience the “support” and “responsible gaming” measures and conduct codes the high street bookmakers claim to subscribe to are at absolute best half-hearted, at worst deliberately ignored in favour of chasing profits. Add to that the anger of many gambling addicts on a heavy losing streak with money they can’t afford, in a small bookies with one member of staff on duty who will often be a petite woman in her 20s and you can see why approaching people who look like they might be having a problem isn’t something that happens very much.