Gambling Companies
AO Gambling Companies

Industry that produces addiction

Most people think that gambling could be fun and social, and do not think that gambling should be prohibited. What they object to is how the gambling companies behave towards their consumers, and the ways gambling has been allowed to develop to be more and more dangerous to players.

They make it appealing, ‘have a bet with your mates’. You know, and all the rest of it, and Sweet Caroline and all this malarkey. What they’ve done, in my opinion, all of these operators, they’ve turned it in from an entertainment pleasure leisure, soft industry that could still have made them all a lot of money into a very harsh, brutal and damaging environment and landscape. But people now are not savvy enough to know when to stop. You know, they could be having a few drinks at home and the next thing, waaay, they’re pressing anything ‘Oh, how much have I lost? Oh, I don’t know’. And they wake up in the morning and they found that they deposited £1000 and lost it, and they don’t know what they did. It shouldn’t be happening… And that’s got to change, you know, and that mentality of the operators has to be forced to change.

There is no winning. They have the upper hand in everything. If you are winning, you’ll get locked out. That’s never in the back of your mind, really, that if I win in the long term with this operator, they’re going to phase me out. And that only ever happened to me once with one of the UK operators when they got in touch me and said, “We’re closing your account. We don’t need to give you a reason why. But we’re just closing your account”. And the reason was I’d been winning with them. That’s why it feels like an absolutely criminal behaviour. If you read their terms and conditions all of them say we can close your account. We don’t have to give you any reason why. So we don’t have to tell you that we’re closing your account because you’re winning. But if you’re losing crack on. Your losses are literally unlimited. Where, like I say, considering I had hundreds of accounts, for only two to reach out to me in that time and asked me if I was OK, it tells its own story. It’s yeah, it does feel like a, like a criminal operation in plain sight.


I think that operators need to talk with lived experience more. They need to understand that although they’ve got to make a profit, and I take that on board, there’s not a problem with making a profit. There’s a way of making a profit. There’s a way of making it a sustainable business, not exploiting people. And I feel that personally I was exploited because people could have said, Whoa, whoa, whoa. The way I compare this is if you go into a pub, if I walked into a pub and they didn’t know me and I ordered a pint of bitter and drank it, they’d serve me another one. If I drank the next one, they’d serve me another one. But at a certain point, and let’s say six pints, maybe the landlord or the bar lady would just have a little, just keep their eye on me just to make sure. And then all of a sudden, if I start saying and doing silly things, they wouldn’t – they usually don’t serve you again. Yet, if I lose a thousand 2,000, 3,000, 4,000, 5,000, 6,000 with a certain bookmaker, they make it seven eight nine, 10, 11 and all the way up to 41. They never stopped me. It only stopped because I ran out of money. So, the point I’m making is why didn’t they intervene with me? And with many of the people I’ve spoken with, why didn’t they say right, nobody can lose more than £5,000. We immediately freeze that account. We don’t care if they’re a millionaire, a professional footballer or who they are. We set a number and I’m just throwing 5,000 out there as a number. It could be any number, preferably lower than 5,000 if it’s not 5,000 and then contact that customer, freeze the account and say, you know, “Mr X, Mrs X, you’re having a bit of a bad night. We don’t want you to lose your money. Can we help you?” You know? Now obviously, that customer might use profanities or one thing or another. But believe me, from the people I’ve spoken to, they say if those interventions would have taken place, they’d be in a better place now themselves. We may have all lost the money that we lost, but it might have taken 41 weeks rather than one week to lose it, which is a bit easier for the body to absorb, in my opinion. But I think they just need to take a much, much more responsible attitude towards their customers.


People explain that the way the gambling industry makes money is based on getting people addicted. They say this kind of business model damages people and communities to make profit. This was what should not be allowed, rather than gambling itself.

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?

It needs to be safer for people with gambling addiction to not be targeted. 70% or 60 to 70% of gambling profits come from the 5% of compulsive gamblers or at-risk gamblers. At risk gamblers aren’t people that might be a compulsive gambler, might not. They’re at risk of it becoming a serious problem. They’re already at the stage where they’re at the point where they probably can’t turn back. It’s not fun anymore, but they can’t stop. The vast majority of the at-risk group are already way, way into the hole at that point. So, I think when that amount of profit comes from people that are vulnerable and being targeted… it’s relentless. It’s everywhere.

What will gambling turn into? I can’t keep up with it. I think it’s all presented on thing to governments of, “Look at the taxes you could make, look at the employment that we create.” It’s how much money are they taking out of communities? It’s billions in local communities. And what does it actually give? It’s a real drainer, isn’t it? It doesn’t actually– you don’t really hear that many stories of “Well done.” Of, “Look at this, person’s won all this.” You don’t hear that very often, and when you hear there’s a winner every 20 seconds? I said to people that could be 5p if that’s what they’re classing it as. The fact that they use their data, not for any good, just to exploit. And that sounds quite cynical, but that’s what it feels like when I hear stories from people. And that there’s no regulation. The regulators are toothless, really. I think they’re in the pocket of the industry. Where is the hope of that? It just makes people feel very small and discarded. They pick you up and they spit you out and you get replaced by somebody else. It’s a really empty industry, isn’t it? Who is it actually benefiting?


Market Changes

People reflect on how gambling has changed over time because of less regulation, new technology, and more promotion. They say gambling is now faster and more immersive, more accessible, and more available. Those who gambled over many decades speak about how, with each change in the market, their gambling was made worse.  

And in today’s society, it is heightened and worsened because of the almost bombardment of advertising and availability to gamble and the fact that, you know, when I was a when I was, you know, between 20 and 30, there was no mobile phones. You could only gamble for six hours a day. Now, if you’ve got a mobile phone, you can gamble 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. So that that is the if you like the major contributor to it becoming the almost pandemic that it’s become. And that is why one in 15 people in Britain today are affected by somebody’s gambling disorder

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.

For those that started gambling more recently, they speak about how their gambling very rapidly spiralled out of control and caused them lots of harm very fast.

That was that, and again, on the weekends, it became a more prominent thing. It was more and more football. That’s where the vast majority was. Then he started taking up the weekends and that’s when you start to see go from a hobby to– and again, this is all something you enjoy littered with losses that annoy you, frustrate you. Has its own pitfalls, but it was still in the stage of being fun, still in the stage of you kind of have that money to lose. This wasn’t at the point where overdrafts were being spent or loans were being– I was getting loans from loan companies and things like that, or emptying my bank account at this stage, but the gambling itself just became more prominent just over weeks, which to some might seem a long time, but it’s not. It can all spiral very quickly.

I’ll be honest. It started off, like I said, social fun thing that just found its way into just grasping you and becoming a more consuming evil that took grasp as time went on. The more time you would spend on it, the harder it became to come away.

So, I mean, I would say when I first started gambling it was very much a bit of fun. Absolutely. I was just sort of putting on little bets, football mainly. So, I might go to the pub and there would be William Hill over the road, getting a slip. You know, we used to sort of discuss the slip, football slips with mates and stuff. I’d put maybe a pound on here, and pound of there, that sort of thing. You know, very kind of simple. Sometimes we’d get some wins and sometimes we didn’t, but it was all kind of small amounts of money and nothing that was, you know, a daily thing at that point. So, I sort of did that for a little while and then I think for me, where it started to turn, or just initially I started enjoying it too much was when I started downloading apps on my phone. So, you know, betting apps. I probably had about four or five accounts, Ladbrokes, William Hill. I had a Sky Bet one, funnily enough. There was also the sort of I think I had 32Red Casino as well. So obviously these were quite enticing at the time because you’d get free bets, and you could go on whenever you want. I think the other side of it which people don’t really see is you don’t see the money. So, you’re not putting the money over a till, you’re just kind of putting money from the accounts, you don’t see the money that you’re putting in. It’s very kind of quick and you can access it whenever you want. So, I started going onto my apps and, you know, betting on football again, different things, mainly football. There wasn’t really anything else at that point. Then I think what happened was I started to obviously win a bit. I started to get a bit more adventurous, I would say. I started putting on more money across different apps. So, you know, initially it was fine, but then I started it to bet longer in the days. I’d maybe go on in the middle of the night and bet on some team I’ve never heard of in the middle of South America or wherever. So, I started betting at different times on things I wasn’t really sure about, and I again it was still kind of sports related. But I was betting more. I was betting more money. So, it’s kind of like from five to 10 to 20. The biggest problem happened, and this is where I suppose most of my problems came from, and most of my debt, most of the addiction, I would say, was when I started going on to 32Red, and it was the casino. It was casino tables, roulette tables. Very simply red or black. No skill to it, like you maybe would with, and you know, goals in the game or the half time score. So that obviously I had easy access to. I was betting from credit cards, my own account. And the amounts of money that I was betting on there were ridiculous. So, it kind of started anything from 20 to some bets of £500 at a time. And again, it was just simply red or black. Red, you get your money back, black and so on. And that kind of is where, I mean I remember one night of doing that I probably lost about £7,000 in one night and the money was all being funded from my credit cards. Again, I was just betting randomly. I was sending money over. No intervention. It was just kind of easy to do. And that became my habit, and it became sort of just took over my life, I’ll be honest. Because I felt like I was in a bubble. You know, no one knew what was going on. I couldn’t tell anybody. You call it the invisible addiction, which is very kind of true. So, you can go, and you know, you can go around, and people can’t notice things that are going on. So, I was doing it in work, I was doing it at night, and I was doing it in the middle of the night. I was staying up late. I’d be doing it when I was making the get kids tea, just randomly getting my phone and trying to put a bet on. It was consuming because I’d lose money and I would have to win it back. So, I kept thinking, how can I win it back? And the more you win back, the more risky you get, the bigger bets you put on. I got myself in over £30,000 of debt. So that’s kind of my experience with gambling.


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