AO Harm


Gambling-related crime is harmful to the person who commits the crime. It is also results in harm to those close to them, businesses, and society. Gambling-related crime leaves an excessively large legacy of harm once the person stops gambling.

During their gambling difficulties, people tend to lose all the money they have and end up in debt. They find themselves in a desperate economic situation. Eventually they cannot see another way to get money other than through criminal activity. They may steal from friends or family or shoplift. Much of the crime people have spoken about is embezzlement from their employer or their own business. Their gambling addiction can make them think that if they get money to gamble, they will be able to pay off their debts and pay back the money they have taken.

People may have a long period of waiting for a crime to be tried in court. They may have to deal with the impact of receiving a custodial sentence. They have a criminal record. People also have to deal with feelings of shame and the stigma associated with crime. All of this can damage their relationships, family, and prospects for the long-term.

During Gambling

The financial harm caused by gambling means that people can be without money to live on or to buy essentials for themselves and their family. This can lead them to crimes such as shoplifting.

The shoplifting was obviously because of gambling. I never had any money. I had my kids every weekend and sometimes I would – They would be asking for McDonald’s or, I would have no money. I would be like, “We’ll go here and get something.” I used to go in and grab whatever they wanted and walk out here because they were kids, they’re not going to suspect anything, but obviously from that, I started going in myself, taking a big bag with me and taking– Well, it wasn’t really food and stuff like that. It was food now and again, but I started going different places and scanning places, looking where all the cameras were, looking if they had any alarms. Literally looked into every single detail to not get caught.

Some describe how their gambling difficulties had put them into a desparate financial situation. They have exhausted all other ways of getting money. Such as borrowing from friends and family, credit cards and payday loans. They embezzle money from their employer.

This tends to start with with small amounts of money. It is possible this embezzlement will happen more frequently, and a large sum of money will have been stolen.

People have explained how gambling addiction distorts their thinking. They think that if they keep gambling they will win, get themselves out of financial trouble and pay back the money they have taken from work.

And then yet I gambled, and I used people’s money that wasn’t mine. I was in charge of a fund for people that are buying properties from me. I’d set up my own business in Dubai, real estate business. I had agents under me, and I used money and I dipped in money and when I dipped, I just kept dipping and dipping, and it just spiralled out of control.

And then, yeah, and then I sort of just really got hold of the recovery. But then again, I had another episode two years later, and that was where I had an offer of a job as a temporary steward, a bar steward. My mother was the chair lady of a social club and because I was freelancing with my job I could obviously… a job offer came in as a temporary steward and my Mum was chairlady and they were struggling. Bizarrely, they had suspended this steward for fraud, he’d been stealing from the club. I came and done this job, bearing in mind I’d been two and half maybe three years abstinent again, feeling really good with my recovery. The warning signs were there. I was a bar manager. I had to deal with cash and that kind of stuff. There was a committee running the club which my Mum was part of and was a Treasurer. There was all kinds of rumours going around about money going missing and you always find corruption around these places where there’s people running this kind of stuff. It’s volunteers running committees, running social clubs. And this is where I fell foul of the stealing. Money started going missing. I started feeling pressure. It wasn’t me. I fell back into the gambling with my own money, my salary, and then started dipping into the safe. And then over a six-week period, I stole somewhere close between seven and 10 grand cash going into the bookies spending. All I kept thinking was I’m trying; I’m trying to replenish or put the money back that had gone missing. It wasn’t me. If I’d… a responsible, I suppose a person who wasn’t in recovery from gambling, who was always worried about if money had gone missing you were the first finger, they would point at that, most other people would have tried to tackle that in a completely different way. Me in my irrational gambling sort of head thought I’m going to gamble my way out of trouble here. And that’s what I tried to do, and it blew up in my face spectacularly.


Committing crime can cause even more pressure and anxiety. People may get found out or they have to tell their employer or family. Their addiction can be so strong that they carry on gambling to try and cope with what has happened.

And you can imagine the pressure I was under when I had to tell like all these people, I’d stolen money from what I had done, and it was daily, daily. I was given opportunities to earn and pay back money, and I got another job, but it was never going to repair what I’d taken. It would have taken me 10 lifetimes to do that. And the pressure just got to me, and my escape was gambling. There was nowhere else. It is probably so hard for people to understand that the problem that had put me in that turmoil was the problem that I was going back to take my mind off of it. And it would do that for me. It’s mad, and again, I just carried on causing more, and more, and more, and more damage, more and more damage, and I stole from the employer that took me on in the UK and you know, I had to tell them what I’d done and left that job, and that was my moment.


Gambling-related crime can have big knock-on effects. On people’s employment, on their relationships and their living situation. And on their mental health, in some cases leading people to the point of attempting suicide.

Where it had got so bad, I had committed fraud by abuse of position. That’s where my gambling had led me. So in the space of a week, I went from having my own place, partner, career, everything, to having to declare myself bankrupt, lost my job, got arrested, lost my partner, lost absolutely everything in the space of three days, so it was a very trying time… which did ultimately lead to attempted suicide.


Gambling-related crimes leave a large legacy of harm once the person stops gambling.

Some people have described the anxiety of going through the criminal justice system. They may never have had to deal with the criminal justice system before and do not know how it works. Even if they have confessed and provided all the evidence, they may have to wait a long time for the crime to be investigated by the police and come to court. This causes them to have sleepless nights and fears around what the outcome might be. It has an impact on their ability to rebuild their life.

I’ve never been arrested in my life. I had absolutely no idea what was going to happen, what was going on, and I was petrified. I rang a solicitor and told them what I’ve done. And I did, that around that sort of time, that’s when I thought about suicide, because I thought that’s the why out. That’s running away. I don’t want to face up to this. I thought I would be in prison by now. At that time, I thought they were going to arrest me. I looked at videos and things online and I got my passport ready and everything, because I though they were going to take my passport so I couldn’t leave the country, all these worst case scenarios. I didn’t sleep at all. And then when I did get arrested, the police were absolutely lovely, they were just human beings. And they took me in, and we had a chat about things and they explained the possible outcomes, where it’s going to go, etc. Which is not great, still, potentially, I’m looking at a custodial sentence which petrifies me. I’m not going to cope in prison. And I’m changing my mentality to I will cope in prison. I will help people to read and write. I will help others and I will make that situation work. So that at the moment is still an ongoing, ongoing thing. And because I’ve never been in trouble with the police before, I thought to myself, I don’t even know what’s taking so long. For me, 18 months, and I’ve made a full disclosure to the place. I’ve given them all my bank statements, everything. What’s taken so long? I feel like I’m living in limbo land. I feel like I’m living on borrowed time every single day. Which is when I then took on doing the mindfulness course, to be more present. Can’t change the past, tomorrow is not guaranteed, let’s just focus on today


It was found that I’d been fraudulent using the business’ money. There was then a period of about three or four months of nothing happening. I could say that speaking of it in that tense, there was all sorts happening. When I look at it now, I’m able to realise that I went through a terrible time then because of the not knowing what was going on, I was hearing rumours from where I worked. There was all sorts of stuff being put on social media. I hadn’t had any contact from the police. It took, I think, 12 weeks before I got any contact from them.

Those that have embezzled funds can end up with a custodial sentence, serving time in prison or on probation. That they are experiencing gambling addiction is not usually taken into account during sentencing, like it is for other addictions or mental ill-health. People describe how periods of incarceration were damaging, not only to them serving the sentence, but also partners, children and family. People said that gambling was a very common part of prison life so being in prison could add to their gambling. Prison and probation services did not understand gambling addiction and did not provide help for it.

Some people have spoken about proceeds of crime proceedings. This is when the prosecution service tries to get back money or assets that come from criminal activity, so those who commit crime do not benefit from it. However, people driven to crime by gambling addiction have not benefited from their crime. They have no money and have debt. Requiring them to pay back money they have taken adds to the financial burden on them and their families. Meanwhile, the money from their crime has all gone to the gambling companies.

I don’t know if you’ve ever dealt with anyone who’s been in prison because of gambling, but in the same way, as they say, if you haven’t got a drug addiction, when you go in there, you’ll have one when you come out, if you haven’t got a gambling addiction, when you go in there, you’ll have one when you come out.

They bet on anything. They bet on what time the guards will come and which cell will unlock first. It literally is two spiders crawling up a wall and the stupid thing was you weren’t allowed money, so you couldn’t bet with money. You bet with bars of chocolate or packets of cigarettes or whatever, and within reason, you couldn’t collect on any debt because the worst thing you could do is commit violence in prison because you’ll either get an extended sentence or you’ll get moved to another prison or both.

Gambling was just seen as, by all sides, by the prisoners and the guards and the prison system, more to the point, as just the useful way of keeping everyone happy, except for the people who lost. I know I’m making it sound funny. It isn’t funny, but the fact is I didn’t stop gambling for a single day while I was in jail. More than anything else, that made me realize how much it was up here and the pleasure of doing it, rather than the money or what you could win.
The only thing that feels important to me to add, and this isn’t an excuse for anything, but it is relevant to what I want to talk about, like where I am now. At no point up until this point, when I came out of jail in 1995, at no point in my life had I received any help or psychiatric advice. When I was going through the court process, the prosecution sent a psychiatrist to see me while I was on remand in the prison to see if, in his opinion, I was addicted or I presented as an addictive person.

He said to the court, yes, I did. It didn’t make my sentence any less, but it did stop it from being more. Even though he appeared for the prosecution, it worked out in my favour. At that point, he is or was the only person I had ever spoke to on a medical basis about my gambling.

Steve #2

Obviously, I’d been sacked, and I had a court case to look forward to. That came along in February 2018. By this time, because I cooperated with the police and my work, we calculated pretty quickly how much it was that I’d stole. So over the four years, it was just under £192,000, that I’d stole. So I knew that was going to result in a custodial sentence, and that came in February and I was sentenced to 27 months imprisonment, which in this day and age means you’ve got to serve half the time, and I knew pretty quick that I was going to be entitled to home detention with a tag. So I was released in November of the same year. So, I did just about 10 months inside, which, you know, I don’t think you ever hear good things about prison. What you hear, it’s a hundred times worse. But I survived it. When I was inside, obviously there’s proceeds of crime involved where the Crown Prosecution Service, CPS, go after getting the money back. So, I had that to deal with whilst I was inside.


The person’s reputation is damaged, and they may have lost their job and career. The impact of having a criminal record can lead to difficulty getting work and can undermine earning potential. This makes it difficult for the person to find and sustain employment and to regain financial stability.

Legacy harms, you know. Getting a job with a criminal record can be hard. Insurance when you’ve got a criminal record and you’ve been declared bankrupt is tough. I can’t be a trustee on a charity because I’ve got a bankruptcy and I’ve got a criminal record.

Even after a custodial sentence is completed, or money has been paid back, many have described the ongoing shame and self-stigma they feel, and the stigma they experience from their community.

So, for me, I mean, I suffer in my hometown there’s the club I stole the money from. I went back in there three years later, I paid all the money back. Previously, the one who got suspended and sacked eventually for stealing money, and he’s there for twenty-five years, he goes back in there – normal. I walk back in there after paying all the money back within two years and it’s a different committee and stuff there now. I wouldn’t go back there again now. I see people looking down. I get people who I think are a bit more level-headed, a bit more understanding and empathetic who see the work I do and go, do you know what Nick, I’ve known you for 20 years, some of the stuff you’ve done has been horrendous but fair play to you mate, you’ve turned your life around and you’re trying to help others and blah, blah, blah raise awareness. Then there’s other people who look you up and down going shit, you’re a piece of shit, you’re an addiction, you’ll always be an addict.


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If you feel like you need support or someone to talk to about your own or someone else’s gambling, there are several organisations who can offer help, support and answer any questions you may have.

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