Gambling Companies

Access and availability

People have said a big issue is the vast variety of gambling now available, and how easy all of it is to access all of the time. Having a great variety of something so easy to access does not help consumers if it is harmful and addictive like gambling.

Many people have explained how having non-stop access to so much gambling, means they are likely to lose control, lose a lot of money and get addicted. Especially gambling on smart phones is like having all the gambling venues in your pocket and they never close. And nobody around you can see what you were doing. But people have said that there is also too much gambling on the high street or by telephone.

People have also said having all the kinds of gambling available everywhere means they try out new kinds and gamble in lots of different ways. This makes their gambling worse. People had taken part in many types of gambling – lotteries, scratch cards, instant wins, prize draws, bingo, roulette, poker, blackjack, slots, sports betting, FOBTs, arcade games. Some also become involved in spread betting or trading apps.

Online access all the time and anywhere

When you are gambling in a venue like a bookmaker, you physically have to get there and there are closing times, so there are some limits. People have spoken about how online gambling on a laptop or PC made their gambling worse, as they could gamble at home. But people say that smartphone gambling is the most harmful, as it means they would keep gambling anywhere at any time and they could not escape.

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.

You know, you’re walking around with a casino in your pocket, 24-7 now. It’s like things have moved on so much. It’s like those machines I used, that’s what started it, but you used to have to physically go to the shop to do that. And then the same games are now available in your pocket and just couldn’t escape from it. So, like every time I slipped up, I would slip up so bad because you’d start and stop playing roulette or whatever on your phone and you just wouldn’t stop until everything was gone.


It would be something that I did to make it more interesting. Until I could gamble online, I never really had issues with it. It wasn’t an overnight thing, but as my professional experience and pressure, if you like, and earning potential got larger and larger, I became more successful in me work, which led probably to more stress, I would think. I don’t blame that on any of them at all. It was the ease of being able to do it. The fact that I could now gamble online without anybody else knowing was another tangent to that. It changed very quickly for me.

Online gambling on a computer and especially smartphone is more concealable, so people can gamble more. Some say that if they gambled in a venue others would notice how much they are gambling. Online they can keep this hidden.

It was always going to bookies. Again, I think perhaps that was why I probably didn’t ever put that much on, because it was perhaps the way it was as well. You tended to perhaps know a lot of people because it’s only a small area where I live. Perhaps you knew people and you were almost not wanting them to see if you were putting a certain amount on or your dad might have even been in there as though, well, what are you doing with £20-30? You know I only have a couple of pounds on, so it was almost, I just put little bits on just for the enjoyment.

Especially when our dinner time came around, when we would stop working for an hour, we would be really on it, all of us looking into our smartphones and everyone doing their own bets. People could be betting on the same game, but doing different ones and it created a really fun, nice kind of distraction as well as a bit of a fun– how do I put it? Just a bit of a fun social activity to do really in between when we was working. Again, I was taking that home and again still being fun, still found it something I was enjoying. I was doing it whilst I was at home in the comfort of my own home. I think that’s where it spiralled because I was on my own. I could be more secretive and I could start to hide things better than– my gambling. I could even hide from those people I was gambling socially with. They didn’t know the extent of my gambling outside of the work environment, because it’s all done on my smartphone. As far as they were aware, I was gambling– yes, they could have said I was gambling at home, but they could have only thought the vast majority of the gambling I was doing was when I was with them. When you’ve got this smartphone, you’ve got access to these websites and these companies, and again, I was in charge of my own bank account back then, and that sort of thing, and money was a bit more readily available.


This means that people who would never go into a casino or especially a bookmaker, are able to gamble in the privacy of their home and without anyone knowing.

I’d never been in a bookies. Never, would never want to be seen in one, I don’t think, even to this day. Because of the type of gambling that I did online, it was, I was isolated and it got to the point where it just became my go to place for safety because I was, I think, everything well, everything that had been happening was just building up and somehow, it just seemed to be a release that I could do for me, and I wasn’t hurting anybody else.

It’s a very solitary thing. It’s the thing when you don’t want other people to know you’re doing it. I suppose it’s like the embarrassment side of it that you sit there for three hours doing it. You go in a different room or you’ll go and have a bath… No one knows that you’re sitting on your phone playing slot machines, they just think you’re having a bath. I think if I had to stand somewhere and put that much money into a slot machine, I’d be really conscious that everyone would know how long I’ve been standing there and how much money I’ve spent.

The accessibility of gambling in private spaces means that it can become what people turn to for convenience, when they need something at odd hours or to fit in with other demands. It becomes part of daily life and routines.  

You don’t really think of anything else, your brain doesn’t go, “Oh, I’ll find something else to do” because it’s so easily accessible. It’s just there. Whether it’s nine o’clock in the morning, ten o’clock at night, two o’clock in the morning. If you are awake, it’s there on your phone. I mean, I’ve sat in the bath playing slots before, and there’s no escaping from it because you don’t want to leave your phone in case you get a phone call or a text so you’ve got your phone and it’s just there constantly.

It’s almost like I’ll get up, I’ll put the telly on, have a coffee and then I’ll probably go straight away to the football app. Between about football news, I’ll have a quick look on Facebook, a quick look on Twitter, then probably check the weather because I work outside, and it’s almost the same thing probably when I was going on these betting apps as though, “Yes, I’ve got to look at the games tonight, I’ve got to look at the odds for this, I’ve got to look at the odds for that.” It became so repetitive, but it was almost I’ve gone to look without thinking.

I was a lone parent since my son’s been one years old and when he was about one and a half, I had to give up work at that point because I had sole custody of him. So I was at home, home every day looking after him, taking care of him. And obviously my access to going to the slot machines and going into the bookmakers was very limited. You can’t take children into those, into those sort of places. So, it quickly became apparent to me that I could access this online. It was sort of, I think it was around 2008, 2009 that I started accessing the online side of gambling, which was quite easy for me to access and quickly became an easy feature for me. My son would be happily playing away with his toys, and I could be sat there on the laptop, betting away.


Non-stop access in private spaces without distraction contributes to gambling consuming all people’s time and focus and taking over their lives.

It was easy access. I mean gosh, the fact that it was unlimited, not a good thing, but yeah, something you can do. And I think online, I mean, I didn’t have a phone that I could do it on my phone, so it was always my laptop. And with the, well just being isolated, you’re not answerable to anybody else. And there’s no distraction and no other distraction is there when you’re just looking at a screen.

Gambling wants you– and we talk about this in the meeting, it’s a very true way of looking at it, a gambling company or gambling website, whichever you want to look at it, gambling wants you, as a compulsive gambler, it wants you alone, it wants you in a room on your own, on your phone with no distractions from the outside world. It just wants you fixed on that phone, fixed on gambling, all the time. Does not want you to associating with anyone else; friends, family loved ones, doesn’t want you anywhere near anyone else. Doesn’t want you socializing, wants you on your own, on a laptop, or on your phone gambling on that particular website, to that particular gambling company, and once you’re doing that 24 hours a day, hence why gambling is now 24 hours a day because it wants you on their 24 hours a day. I’ve been up gambling at three o’clock, four o’clock in the morning. I’ve set alarms to wake up in the middle of the night so I could gamble, or to check my bets to see if they’ve come in or whether they haven’t. Other people have said the same thing so I know it’s across the board as well.


All kinds of gambling available everywhere

There are some rules about what kind of gambling can be offered in what type of venue on the high street, but that does not apply online, which means all kinds of gambling are available to everyone all the time online.  It is easy to move from one type of gambling to another. People can move to more risky forms of gambling if they get bored and feel they are not being given any wins for their money.  Or if they see a promotion or get sent an offer.

I found like online casino, and when I say online casino, I didn’t play slots. I just could never get them. I probably did have these free spins and dip in and out, but not like some people I know who play slots, they just play slots. So, I’m talking roulette and blackjack, games like that, table games. And they would keep me occupied from, you know, eight o’clock in the morning, nine o’clock in the morning from my time till the racing started in the afternoon. In-play betting, that was like that’s so easy to gamble every minute of every game. But that’s what it was. It was all of that. It was all of that. And I would say most of my time, well, it was on the casino because you could play that 24 hours a day, seven days a week.


Initially, when I first gambled online, I used to just gamble on what I would gamble on in the bookmakers. It would just be greyhound racing and horse racing. They were the only things that I would gamble on. Then obviously, going back to when I got that money, as the thousands of pounds were dwindling away, I’m trying to keep this aura that I’m still okay, I’ve still got plenty of money, and in hindsight, everything is going down at a rapid rate. I then basically gambled on anything. The thought process changed immensely. It would be table tennis, it would be virtual racing. It would go to tennis. I would bet on golf on a Thursday for tournaments that ended on Sundays. I would say within a very short period of time, and when I say short, maybe two to three weeks of me finding online gambling and having this large amounts of money, the thought process of how I gambled changed rapidly. It wasn’t just about horse racing and greyhounds because they finished at a certain time, and I still wanted to gamble because I might have lost £4,000 that day. The thought process quickly changed the quicker I was losing this money.


Then I just started gambling. I started with the National Lottery, opening up an online account with them to put my lottery tickets on, and the minimum deposit is £10. Generally, most people don’t spend £10 on playing the lottery. I started using the instant games. Very quickly on reflection looking back, I’d spent too much on that already. This was my first exposure to it, and spent far too much money and then got bored, with this realisation that I wasn’t getting anything for my money. You didn’t really get much prizes. I forgot about it and I just left it to one side and didn’t do anything. Then it must be about 10 or 11 years ago, I must have been bored near Christmas, and boredom’s incredibly lethal. I lived on my own in this flat, so nobody there over my shoulder asking me what I was doing. I opened up an account and started playing online slots.

I got a smart phone and before you knew it, I was then gambling via apps. You didn’t need to use the tele anymore. You know, it were all on apps. I had accounts with absolutely every gambling operator you could think of and name and then some more on top. Every single one of them. And I’ve to be fair, I used to… in my brain I used to like having a football bet. I love my football, my darts and my boxing and without blowing my own trumpet I’m not bad at it to be fair in terms of knowledge and you know, picking a winner and things like that. That was never a massive problem as such, but the problem was what that would lead to because I’d go into the app to have a £5 football accumulator and find myself in the online casino. That’s where the real problem was, and I used to play roulette. So, you know, I played roulette and spent a ridiculous amount of money on roulette online.


I think the first thing we have to do, we have to separate sports betting and casino betting, casino games betting. So if we take an operator and I’ll just say it, it could be any operator. I’ll just say William Hill. So, if you open up a William Hill account now, you open it up and you may intend to only bet on horse racing or sport, but you will be offered bingo coupons, poker coupons, slot tournaments, all the rest of it, which is fine. But that kind of cross-selling to me, it lures people in too early. If I want to gamble on a casino I know where to go. If I want to gamble on sports betting, I’d have to go to a bookmaker, although I could use the exchanges. But in general, you use, you know, you’ll use one of the big names. And I think they have to keep people’s accounts separate. So, you’ll have two wallets, and you might allow people to sports bet but self-exclude them from the casino or the other way round. But just make it easier once it’s identified that a person is having problems in either or perhaps both, then you self-exclude them from either sports, either casino or both.


Online access makes all gambling fast and continuous

In general, going online and on smartphones means that whatever form of gambling you started with, gambling can become fast and continuous. This is because you are so easily presented with another opportunity to gamble.

Then I think that’s the turning point with what you say there. Once you could get onto your phone and access, it’s just ridiculous the amount of bets and you can basically bet on everything and whereas you go in a bookies and there might be just the odd bet here, it just opens so many things.

My minimum stake was always £50. I would never go any less because you can go from £50 to £400 within an hour. That’s why betting £10 never interested me because you couldn’t win like hundreds, you could only win like £30 – £40. I always used to bet with £50.

But when smartphones became more readily available and the apps became more readily available, that’s when it seriously sort of ramped up further and further. And the further I got into it, obviously, the further I got into the addiction and the further the compulsion pulled me into making more rash decisions than I previously would have and ramping up the stakes further than I would have initially been making and it grew and grew and grew over the years.

The moment you start, the more things you bet on in your portfolio, the more likely you are to be a chaser. And the more likely you are when you have a bad day, you’ll go to something that’s quick. So, what you’ll have is someone will be watching a football match, they’ll be watching another football match over there. They’ll be playing poker, playing the slots, got their phone and they’re doing five or six things at once. That’s just terrifying. Absolutely terrifying. What is it going to the brain? Was it doing to your thinking? Can you sleep? Can you concentrate? No, you can’t. You know, what is it? Remember they used to spin plates at the circus, you know, and it’s like that’s what it’s doing to your mind.

Other forms of access matter

People say all the access to gambing on the high street is also a problem, and should not be forgotten with the attention focused on online gambling alone. They speak of the gambling in casinos, bookmakers, pubs and arcades.

There must be more steps that you can put in place to limit access to things online and in the live format in casinos. You know, it feels like when I was a child and growing up, casinos weren’t places that people went to in the same way as they do now. It was like very high end, glamorous thing. They weren’t in every city like they are now. It was, as far as I’m aware, I don’t know if this is true, but for a long-time roulette was banned in most places apart from Monte Carlo. And you have to question why that was.

You’ve only got to look at how outdated those numbers are to know that we’ve got a real serious problem with gambling in this country. I mean, I think at last count, there was close to 7,000 betting shops. There’s only twelve hundred McDonald’s. There’s only fourteen hundred Starbucks, for example, that kind of thing. We’ve got 7,000 betting shops and you’ve got your penny arcades and you know, your little, little sort of shops that offer you all these outlets and the youngsters are just exposed to it at a young age.

The other area people are concerned about is gambling via telephone, as well as the wide range of television game shows and prize draws and raffles on social media.

I used to support somebody who had quite a bad addiction with gambling and as they went into recovery, they got into those phone lines and was just spending all of the money on that, on the hope that they would win a car or it was them trying to balance that out of, “Well, it’s not really gambling.” That’s another thing that people don’t see the National Lottery as gambling, telephone lines is gambling, the Facebook lotteries and the raffles that are on there, they’re quite damaging and all these things that we do. I think we are just sleepwalking through it. Aren’t we?

If you look at game shows on a Saturday night, you know, you’ve literally got a ball dropping down a series of things. Anything can happen. It is complete luck, you know. There’s loads of examples of game shows out there that is gambling. There’s no skill involved in it at all. You don’t have to answer a question, you don’t have to do anything. You know, you just have to pick a number in a game of Deal or No Deal. You know, you’re literally picking a box. So you’re promoting that kind of activity as a fun and positive thing.

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