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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.