As accessibility improved, if improved is the right word, you know, in terms of, you know, look at where it started. I started out on fruit machines and then I’d end up at the bookies, but then I didn’t necessarily go into the bookies because I could do it via a remote control and then it moved onto my phone. You know, obviously all these different… so accessibility made it much, much easier to gamble.
I’d like reform change, how research is funded, how treatment is funded, how education is funded. It cannot come from the industry directly having a say whenever it comes for a statutory level which will come from the industry, but they will have no say in how that research is done, what data is collated and shared, and the government needs to step up.
People do gamble within their means, but you’ve got to know that they don’t care about those people. They care about the 5% that are giving 80% of their profits. Those 5% I can assure any person, you know, it would be in the high 90s of how many have a gambling disorder, without a doubt, without a doubt. And they know it. The operators know it. They definitely knew who I was. You know, they called me a wild man and things like that. They know who I was and what I was doing in terms of a gambling addict. And they didn’t care because all they care about is their profits. So, profits over lives isn’t it really?
You do see stigma attached to it. Like I say, you know, go for a health check, it never used to be a question that was on your health check, how many fags do you smoke, you smoke how many fags, you drink how many? Nothing about gambling. Gambling was my biggest…it’s mad because when I talk to you about health, when my cholesterol was at 7.8 and it went down to four point something. I remember her saying to me my God, that’s gone down so much over the years, like, what have you changed? And I said well, I’ve stopped gambling and I eat porridge every day. That was like my reasoning for it. The question wasn’t even on there, but that’s why my health had improved
I remember I was at an England game in a pub a lady said to me so why are you down here then, why are you living down here? and I said, I’ve just come out of rehab, and I don’t want to go back to London and I suffer with a gambling addiction – like you gamble loads? It’s just, I think it’s just looked at so differently, whether that’s stigma or not I just I feel like sometimes people just don’t understand. You know, you say you got a drink problem or drug problem it’s like ohhh. You say gambling problem ‘What he gambles too much? or she gambles too much’ but it’s like, it’s not really seen I don’t think. It’s so normalized. You know, it’s so normalized.
The industry needs to step up and step up. You know, to take, like I’ve got to take responsibility for what I did, they have to take responsibility for what they did and how they’re behaving now. Lives have been lost because of their failures. Homes have been lost because of their failures. Families have been destroyed because of their failures, and they might say well, we did everything right then that’s their opinion. But I’m sure if you’re spending more than you can afford, if you’re borrowing to gamble, if you’re playing a product that is highly addictive 12 hours a day. They haven’t acted responsibly, you know. And I believe no other industry would get away with what they’ve done.
And people would find that so hard to understand. And for me, there is no stop button for gambling addicts. There is no stop. And whether that is winning a thousand pounds on a Monday and another 3000 on a Tuesday, that person will keep going back, and back, and back or I will keep going back, and back, and back until I’ve got zero. There is no stop.
My friend, his brother actually had a fruit machine in his bedroom, and you didn’t have to put money into it. You could just load the credits behind, and we used to play this fruit machine as sort of like 10, 11-year-olds. And when I started secondary school, I’d say this was the first interaction with gambling was penny up the wall… where you sort of throw coins against the wall and whosever coin is closest to the wall you would win the coins of people that are throwing… And the feeling that it gave me was obviously it’s competitive and I’m a young teenage boy and it was fun. So, yeah, very, very similar to sort of where it developed going forward with my gambling.
My first relationship with gambling was with my granddad, and I only found out about this when I left rehab, when my mum told me what we used to do together. I never really had any memory of it, but he used to ask me to pick horses for him from the newspapers. You know, what ones did I like the name of, what numbers and that went on to sort of picking numbers for him for the lottery. And it must have stuck with me because I laugh because I wasn’t, but he used to say I was lucky.
Legacy harms, you know. Getting a job with a criminal record can be hard. Insurance when you’ve got a criminal record and you’ve been declared bankrupt is tough. I can’t be a trustee on a charity because I’ve got a bankruptcy and I’ve got a criminal record.
And then yet I gambled, and I used people’s money that wasn’t mine. I was in charge of a fund for people that are buying properties from me. I’d set up my own business in Dubai, real estate business. I had agents under me, and I used money and I dipped in money and when I dipped, I just kept dipping and dipping, and it just spiralled out of control.
I was always someone that always had access to people that would lend me money. Family, friends and extended friends. Because I was always someone that worked. I was always someone that had a job. The perception was doesn’t gamble more than he can afford or doesn’t gamble excessively. There was no even mention of that. That is someone that could always deliver on promises that he made, and it was only a matter of time before those promises were let down. I let people down, I let friends down, I let family down.
Like I say, responsibilities. I was a young father, and I should have been more responsible. Even today, like our living circumstances. The fact that, you know, because of debt and bankruptcy’s it may be harder for us to ever have our own home again. You know, there’s so much. There’s so much to it.