People say the messages and tools gambling companies provide to tell them to gamble responsibly, and to control their gambling, are ineffective. Some people find these messages and tools to be insulting and harmful, especially in the context of aggressive advertising where addictive products are available everywhere all of the time.
They say these give the impression that gambling companies are behaving responsibly and want them to limit people’s gambling. But in fact, the gambling companies are just pushing all the responsibility onto people – while the operators continue to push them to gamble.
But in, and, you know, just like a gambling addict, it doesn’t pay the addiction to be responsible. Gambling didn’t want me to be responsible. So and like, you know, in a, you know, it’s a profit, it is a profitable thing, so why would they want anyone to be responsible? Tricky, very tricky.
Many people refer to the slogan ‘When the fun stops, stop’. They say this is especially cruel as once their gambling had become out of control, gambling was no longer fun, but by this point they were addicted so could not ‘just stop’
There was an awful slogan that the operators put out called When the Fun Stops Stop. It’s still visible now. I mean, I didn’t ask to become an addict. And of course, I take some responsibility for it. But I do blame certain operators and I do, to a degree blame some of the banks for not intervening as well. But nevertheless, the player does have to take responsibility for their actions. But some of the products now are so highly addictive and combustible that people from the age of 18 to 80 are getting into problems, men as well as women.
People say the tools gambling companies provide for consumers to manage their gambling do not work. They are made to be easy to get around because gambling companies want people to carry on gambling. Tools for setting deposits make it very easy to deposit a high amount, and any limits are very easy to change. A pop-up message that tells people how long they have gambled gives people the option to just close and continue.
There’s nothing to stop you. The only time I’d ever been contacted from one of the companies that I’d used for betting is, I think I’ve probably spent– I’d deposited about £1,000 in a night and they sent an email saying, “We’ve noticed you’ve deposited a lot, are you happy with the amount you’ve deposited?” I just replied and put, “Yes”, and then they unblocked the account. Imagine if I spent that every day, it would be unbelievable, but yes, it’s just like once you get started, it’s like, oh I’ll just play for half an hour with 20 quid just to get myself tired and ready for sleep or whatever, and then before you know it, five hours has gone. It’s crazy because you’re not, you don’t realize that you’re passing money over and you get the little pop-ups that say, “You’ve been playing for an hour, do you want to carry on?” “Yes, of course, I do.” I’m not going to say no, of course, I want to carry on. You literally just carry on until there’s nothing left, and you can’t play anymore.
People are also critical of self-exclusion. This is when you ask a gambling company not to let you gamble with them anymore. Many people give examples of how asking for exclusion from one company did not work for them. As there are now so many websites and apps, they just ended up signing up for another. They also give examples of how gambling companies made the process difficult, or just went through the motions, ignoring the signs of harm.
Because when I went into the IVA, I did actually ban myself for six months on the app, on the Bet365 app, banned myself for six months. It just felt so relieving. It was just probably the most peaceful I felt in a long time, but I also couldn’t wait to get back on it.
When I knew the exact date and time when I could be allowed on it in six months. I knew, and when the time was up– but for some reason I think it’s because I’d signed out for so long. I had to ring someone up and go through, “Do you find yourself chasing money, chasing losses?” I was like, “Oh no, no, no, no.” “Are you depressed? Are you suicidal when you lose a bet?” “Oh, no, no, no.” You know what I mean? That’s how easy it was.
You can put on a poker face and you can get through those obstacles. There’s not enough in place. You obviously can’t blame them because they’re just doing their job. They’re making a lot of money, but there’s people like me and people like at the GA meetings that when they gamble, they just can’t stop.
Like I mentioned before, the GamStop or whatever it is, you self-exclude from everything, nothing like that existed back then. You could self-exclude from somewhere but there’s so many places. You self-exclude from one, and there’s another popping up every five minutes and it’s like there’s just no escape from it. And the advertising, everything is in your face 24-7. I like watching football and you put that on, and you just can’t avoid it. It’s on every advertising board, on every shirt. It’s just like it’s everywhere.
Generally, people acknowledge that the scheme recently put in place, where you can block yourself from all online gambling companies (GamStop) is an improvement, although they question why they can not exclude for life.
The controls don’t work. As an addict I can vouch for that. I mean, self-exclusion, self-exclusion works in the sense that you come from that operator. GamStop is obviously one of the best things that’s come about for me in recent times. Because I’m an online only player, I’ve been able to use GamStop to pretty much control that side of things. And it does work and it’s good. But before that came in, I could just bounce from casinos, from operator to operate to operator and have no problems at all. So self-exclusion that works.
Many people still gambled in venues, and say that they need to offer exclusion from these places as well. People say that excluding from venues continues to be onerous, embarrassing, and ineffective, when there are ways that technology could be used. If they have excluded from all online gambling, but not in venues, then they could still end up gambling.
And, you know, if I’m on a lunch break or at work and I’m next to a bookmakers it was easy to pop in. I think when I really got into the bookmakers was after I self-excluded from the casino because the casino really came in a lot more before the bookmakers. And that was because, you know, like I said, I’d gone in there just to drink and stuff. But then I found the slots and I found the tables. I realised I could do them. and once I’d self-excluded from them, I guess I got more into horse racing as well so I went into the bookmakers, but the big thing was when I couldn’t go into casinos, I then went into them to use the fixed odds betting terminals.
Like I say, it’s not just the addict’s responsibility. Because obviously, they’re using this, they’re getting their fix from somewhere. And they need to look at what they’re doing in the land-based stuff. Like I say, a lot of the times, if you have a membership card to these places and you scan it at table or you put it in a machine obviously everything that you do is recorded. But I mean, I’m sure there’s ways of you looking up your statement or whatever it would be called. But I was never told about that. All you’re told about is,” Oh, you could earn points or whatever”. And a lot of the times I didn’t even have a membership card. I just said, your name, you go in. And you know, they can be trained to be more responsible.