Messages and tools requiring self-control

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.

Deposit limits. I mean, that only works if you’re going to monitor how somebody uses deposit limits. So a good example for me is I had an account with, I was a VIP with Coral and I would, my pattern with them was so degenerate in a way in that I would, I would say, deposit a bank of money, so I’d put £500 in and then I’d put my deposit limit down to £10. I’d be like, Right, I’ve got that money now, if I lose it, I can only deposit £10. So that would be my incentive to not lose it. I’d start off having like £10, £20 bets thinking, I’ll just use this as my gambling bank and just do that. That would then quickly descend into chasing. I’d lose all £500 and then immediately reset my deposit limit to unlimited. And then I’d deposit a big amount again, I’d put my deposit limit down to £10 pounds. And there’s like a 24 hour cool off window when you change your deposit limit. So I could do that pre-emptively. I could think, right, it’s looking like I might lose this money, so I’ll change my deposit limit. I think in the space of a couple of months I must have changed my deposit limit up and down like that maybe 20, 25 times and nobody reached out to say, “Are you in control, do you know what you’re doing?” So what’s the point in having it there? But they still put all of the responsibility on the player.


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. 

That just sticks in my mind about William Hill in the end but I remember that was a really early company that I used and it was like, “Oh, welcome.” “Oh, look at this game”. “Oh, look at this,” and, “Oh, I’ve got bonuses.” It’s all very nice, isn’t it? It just feels like this is nice. There’s no stress here. It’s a game. Then in the, I don’t know what it was. I must have been with them for quite a while and you just realized that you’re just constantly losing. Then it was like, “I’ve had enough of this.” I wasn’t angry at them, but it was like I thought we had a good relationship, but it sounds really strange because I can’t say that I can think of any other companies that I felt like that. Maybe it was that realisation and a bit of humiliation of going what am I doing, still carried on for years, but just going, “Oh, that’s not nice.” Then it was, “I want to exclude,” and then it can be a month. It could be three months, and the maximum wasn’t very long. For me, it was like, “I don’t want to interact with you anymore.” I said, “I don’t want to engage with you ever, and then they said write that letter. I didn’t write the letter because I was just like, “I’m not writing a letter to Malta.” There was all very different ways of self-excluding, some successful, some not so successful.

 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.

I sent an email saying I need to self-exclude. They sent something back which said, well, actually, I don’t know the exact words, but you need to through the website or you need to go and fill in this form or whatever. I didn’t do it. The next day, I went back to them and asked for more free chips, and what they did was they came back and said we want to bring your attention to the email you sent yesterday. That was the only thing they did. And I sent one back and said don’t worry about it that, I’ve self-excluded from some others so you’re now my favoured casino. Somebody there should be going this guy, look at what he’s been betting, and we should have already intervened, but we didn’t. He’s now asking to self-exclude. He’s changed his mind. There is an issue here. They said, “OK, no worries”, and they gave me a matched bonus. I then gambled for another 12 days, or something I then managed to stop.


And after that point, I think self-exclusion became a real just, if I got through a week without self-excluding myself from an account, I’d done pretty well. It was just, I went through the cycle of I’d open an account with an operator. I’d have three or four days of heavy betting, and after that it would either be a point of I would, I would have won some money. So maybe, maybe that gives it a few more days. Or I’d have lost so much that I just think I need self-exclude and stop. Self-exclusion would generally stop me for about 24 hours. It would almost be like a cool down period. And then sort of the little voice would be on my shoulder would be like, “No, you can remember you can, if you do it sensibly, you can make money from this”. So, okay, right, I’ll open another account with somebody else, but I’ll do it sensibly this time. And again, I’d open an account for a couple of days. I’d be quite sensible. Then I’d lose a bit of money, start chasing that. Maybe five or six days later, that account would be gone. I mean, over the last maybe six, seven years, I’d say comfortably, I’ve had well over 100 accounts with different operators, in my name, in my wife’s name, in my family’s name, just to keep going because self-exclusion always felt like the right answer, but in the reality of it, it probably wasn’t, because it just made me more determined than ever to then find another account. And I mean, hilariously, some accounts lasted a matter of hours. I’d open an account, place a couple of massive bets because I’d be chasing, lose, self-exclude and move on to the next one and yeah.


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.

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