The first thing is they need to take that onus off individuals. And there’s talk about safer gambling. I don’t want safer gambling, I want safe gambling.
There’s no ombudsman, there has to be an independent ombudsman. I have got my subject access request from some online casinos. I can very clearly see the issues with them, as can they. I’ve written to them, and I’ve said this is what you have done wrong, these are your failings against your licence conditions. What are you going to do about it? Nothing. No, we can’t do anything. Unless you want to take us to court, we won’t do anything, and this is the point. If there was an independent ombudsman, whether or not I was to get some redress or not, at least somebody independent has looked at it and I think that’s so, so important because at the moment, they can just do whatever they want. And it’s just totally unacceptable.
I mean, research, education and treatment there needs to be like a mandatory levy so that money comes in. It’s crazy, you know. They don’t put any money back to help, really, you know.
I took out a 25 grand loan that night because I lost all the money for the builders. Fortunately, we’d paid a lot of it before, but there was still thousands and thousands to be paid to the builders. And then I took out a 25 grand loan and I put £22,000 into that Casumo account in two hours and 11 minutes. And nobody stopped it. I lost. I lost everything. And I stopped. I was like thank God it’s gone, and something hit me at that point it was, you’re going to kill yourself? Because if you kill yourself, you’ve left them with nothing.
And, you know, if I’m on a lunch break or at work and I’m next to a bookmakers it was easy to pop in. I think when I really got into the bookmakers was after I self-excluded from the casino because the casino really came in a lot more before the bookmakers. And that was because, you know, like I said, I’d gone in there just to drink and stuff. But then I found the slots and I found the tables. I realised I could do them. and once I’d self-excluded from them, I guess I got more into horse racing as well so I went into the bookmakers, but the big thing was when I couldn’t go into casinos, I then went into them to use the fixed odds betting terminals.
It was easier to start online because actually I was told to start online by the advertising, really. And then it was easier to do because I could feel my own way through it, and there was no pressure going into a bookmakers. It would feel like there’s more pressure because you’re not really taught how to fill in betting slips and stuff, you know, and you hear people talking about lucky-15, like what are they talking about?
And that’s one of the most important things is I want the world to know that it’s all right to ask for help. You know, if an industry develops products that are addictive, don’t feel like you shouldn’t get addicted to them because it makes a lot of sense that you are, so ask for some help. And don’t feel like I did. The thing that gets me as well is I’m kind of from a demographic where I’m expected to gamble. I mean, I’m a middle-aged white man from a Catholic background, we drink, we bet on the horses, and this kind of thing, and I couldn’t say anything. I still couldn’t say anything. So, I think about those people out there who are from different cultures, different backgrounds, who actually it’s far more difficult for them even than it was for me.
It was so hard to talk about it, and it’s hard to talk about it because it’s so normal. And my dad’s gambled in his life, you know. He doesn’t now, actually, but he didn’t have – when I say he gambled, you know, it was rare, but he’d go in the casino if he was on a cruise or if he was on a holiday somewhere and really enjoy it but leave when he wanted to having spent not a lot of money. And he would sometimes play on fruit machines but that was it. I was very different to that, and I guess as well, I couldn’t work out why, you know, why can’t I stop?
It’s mad. It really is a crazy thing. Like how? How can you harm yourself and your family? Oh, I know, lie to them and lose all your money. Yeah. Crazy, but yeah, I know I felt like I deserved it, and I don’t feel like I deserved it now. And this comes back down to that industry narrative of putting all the onus upon the person who is addicted. You know, you play responsibly, you set these limits, you self- exclude. And what I needed was somebody to say, crikey, this isn’t okay. You need to stop them. What’s going on in your life? Why do you feel like this?
I was a vulnerable person without realising it maybe. Somebody who now knows he’s got ADHD and as soon as you open a gambling app wow, what a place to hyper focus and take your attention away from all the stuff in your mind, which I didn’t realise then but I’m seeing now. No wonder this got me when they’ve got these addictive products available 24 hours a day and there’s me and my head all over the place, and then there’s this place I can go, which allows my brain essentially to calm down is how it felt. It can’t, because I always imagined my brain as like a computer, with lots of different tabs in and I can’t stay on one tab. I’ve got to keep moving. Except when open that gambling tab, you know, it was different. I could stay there.
And this comes back down to that industry narrative of putting all the onus upon the person who is addicted. You know, you play responsibly, you set these limits, you self-exclude. And what I needed was somebody to say, “Crikey, this isn’t okay.” You need to stop them. “What’s going on in your life? Why do you feel like this?” And then I might have found out.
But other things you know, they need, they need to ban VIP schemes or anything. If it’s not called VIP, but it is VIP, it needs to go. They are incredibly dangerous. I mentioned reverse withdrawals, which I believe are changing anyway but that kind of practice is unacceptable. Affordability checks, you know, how do you check that somebody can afford to do this stuff? That’s so, so important as well, so I’d say affordability checks, VIP stuff and treatment as well
But I took out a 25 grand loan that night because I lost all the money, all the money for the builders. Fortunately, we’d paid a lot of it before, but there was still thousands and thousands to be paid to the builders. And then I took out a 25 grand loan and I put £22,000 into that Casumo account in two hours and 11 minutes. And, you know, nobody stopped it. I lost. I lost everything. And I stopped. I was like “thank God it’s gone” and something hit me at that point it was, you’re going to kill yourself? Because if you kill yourself, you’ve left them with nothing. Well go and get help. And I did.
I’ve tried to do stuff to stop being scared, and then I’ve done quite well, or very well with my life. I’ve been very lucky. But why should somebody like me be that lucky? I don’t deserve to be this lucky, and it wasn’t lucky it was hard work. But in my mind, it’s like you don’t deserve this, you don’t deserve this, and as soon as I found the gambling, I could just bring it right back down. It’s like the bloody army going in and just bombing quickly. You know, it’s terrible, terrible harm really, really quickly.