I would like to see gambling advertisement, I’m somewhere between gambling advertisement being banned completely or if it isn’t going to be banned completely it certainly should be after the watershed. I don’t think there’s any need for gambling to be constantly advertised all day every day. So, if we said after nine o’clock at night. I don’t know. I’m somewhere between after a watershed or ban it completely.
I said the fixed odds betting terminals went on for an awfully long time. And then from, blimey, like I say, I’ve done every, every sort of variation of gambling if you like because of the age that I am, and the ages that I’ve lived through, you know with the advent of the internet and smartphones and everything like that. So as gambling has evolved, so has my gambling that went with it really.
I do sometimes feel as sort of a middle-aged bloke that you know, I don’t want to sound like a chip on my shoulder, but it does sometimes feel a little bit like your middle-aged guy is the one that has the least ability to sort of go, yeah, I feel shame. I feel stigma because it might not be anything to do with my, you know, my gender, my beliefs, my culture, my background. I’m just your average bloke without anything that I can attribute that shame and stigma to other than the fact that I’m a gambling addict, and I am a recovering gambling addict. That is enough for me. We all, everybody should be able to feel like they can speak up.
I know I’ve used drugs and alcohol many times during this conversation, but there’s only so much, there’s only so much drugs you can put into your system before your body goes that’s enough, and it shuts down. There’s only so much alcohol you can drink. Gambling you can lose absolutely everything in the space of a night, in the space of an hour if you want to. You can just literally do everything and that needs to be tackled.
And what I always say, especially having worked in drug and alcohol recovery as well, if I had gone upstairs, you know, smoked a crack pipe or injected heroin or drank a bottle of wine or something like that, I would have gone back downstairs you would have seen it, you would have smelt it. My behaviour would have been different, you would have noticed it. Gambling, nothing at all. I went down with a smile on my face and that’s the thing with gamblers, because gamblers become incredibly adept at lying and putting on a front.
I was then suddenly not in a relationship, not having to go to work. I had all day every day to myself, so my gambling just spiralled even worse. I was in a terrible place mentally. I had nobody to answer to if that makes sense or be accountable to or be part of that relationship. I spiralled out of control, like I say which ended up with an attempt on my own life Christmas Eve that year. I spent three days in hospital on sort of drips and blah blah blah blah. But after a couple of days in hospital, I was laid in my hospital bed gambling on my phone. That was how powerful it was. I was still in the hospital bed using my phone to gamble.
I would encourage anybody to access absolutely everything. National Gambling Helpline, counselling, Gamblers Anonymous, make use of all the GamStop, GamBan, all these different self-exclusion things. There’s different things. It’s difficult in person because obviously you know your self-exclusion is only as good as the staff member, you know, and it’s not often – they can’t be expected to remember everybody. But put as many barriers as you can in place. You know, if you speak, speak to people, friends, to family, if you’re comfortable doing that.
As I picked up followers on my works Twitter, I ended up following them on my personal and it suddenly became a bit of a blur. The convergence between the two happened over a period of months and months, and it just it happened naturally to be honest with you but that was my experience. It was really, really good because then I was able to speak to people that were in this environment, which were working in this environment, and I was connecting with them initially on a professional level. But then, as I was explaining that I was no different to them, I was a recovering gambling addict and you start to form bonds and relationships and friendships, and then that network grows. And I found it really, really, really useful to be fair.