Individual choice and responsibility

People speak about how the gambling industry promotes views beneficial to itself. The gambling industry claims that gambling is a matter of choice. They claim that personal responsibility and self-control will keep everyone safe.

Yet at the same time, they push people to gamble more. The industry uses clever marketing and promotion to encourage people to spend as much as possible. Great effort is put into venue design, website design, and product design. This is done purely to make people spend more.

People are accused of making a ‘lifestyle choice’ and being irresponsible when they suffer from gambling harm. This hides the role played by the irresponsible practices of the gambling industry. It also hides the role played by the government, when it does not regulate gambling as an addictive product. 

You just, they know exactly what they’re doing. And I think I, I personally, I take a huge amount of responsibility for everything I did and for everything that I have done with gambling. But I can’t help but feel incredibly angry towards the bookmakers as well and the way they operate, knowing what I know now of how they operate and how they treat people like me. Their business model isn’t on what they advertise, isn’t on the sort of mates, down the pub having a friendly bet. Their business model is on converting those people into addicts and getting the most money out of them that they can because you see how they treat you once you’re gone. They don’t care, as soon as you’re out the door, as soon as you’ve self-excluded, they just move on to the next person. And I just, yeah, I have so many, so many moral issues with the way they behave looking back now. And I think a lot of the stigma around gambling and around coming out of it is generated by the bookmakers because whenever you hear people confronting them about responsible gambling and things like that, they always put it down to kind of, oh, it’s almost like the dirty few, the small percentage of stupid people that that go too far. The majority of our players are good, but you’ve got these bad people that that go too far and make us look bad. We’re doing everything we can. I mean, they are doing nothing. They are doing exactly what the betting and license and the gambling authorities tell them to do. That is all they are doing. The controls don’t work. As an addict I can vouch for that.


I would like the gambling companies to be accountable for the harm and the damage they do to individuals, both criminally, they have a responsibility, a corporate responsibility to their consumers, but also financially. I would love to see advertising completely banned across the board. You have so many people that enjoy gambling. They don’t need to see an advert or hear it on the radio or see it in the newspaper. I’d like reform change, how research is funded, how treatment is funded, how education is funded. It cannot come from the industry directly having a say whenever it comes for a statutory level which will come from the industry, but they will have no say in how that research is done, what data is collated and shared, and the government needs to step up. Banks need to step up. But the industry needs to step up and step up. You know, to take, like I’ve got to take responsibility for what I did, they have to take responsibility for what they did and how they’re behaving now. Lives have been lost because of their failures


I had one person say to a friend of mine well, all you’ve got to do is stop. Oh my god. All you’ve got to stop. What sort of an answer is that? When the Fun Stops, Stop. It’s too much because they make it sound so easy. Well, when your fun stops, stop. OK, I’ll stop. So, stop sending me emails. Stop VIPing me, you know? It’s a two-way thing, isn’t it?

Many people speak about how bad they feel because of ‘responsible gambling’ messages. These slogans make people feel that they are to blame for their suffering. People are being told it is their responsibility ‘to control themselves’, but they are being sold something addictive. Things that are addictive make people lose control so they keep doing it even when it is harmful to them. This is an impossible situation.

It’s mad. It really is a crazy thing. Like how? How can you harm yourself and your family? Oh, I know, lie to them and lose all your money. Yeah. Crazy, but yeah, I know I felt like I deserved it, and I don’t feel like I deserved it now. And this comes back down to that industry narrative of putting all the onus upon the person who is addicted. You know, you play responsibly, you set these limits, you self- exclude. And what I needed was somebody to say, crikey, this isn’t okay. You need to stop them. What’s going on in your life? Why do you feel like this?

The first thing I tell people is that instead of being closed and, you know, putting a barrier around yourself, you need to be accepting that you’ve got an illness. A lot of people don’t accept that it’s an illness. And so consequently, they think it’s a life choice which are, you know, it’s chicken and the egg. Yes, it was a life choice to gamble. However, they didn’t choose to move into the problematic pathological aspect of gambling that that is, you know, that comes about because of complex issues that are all contributing factors for somebody moving into that area.

I think it’s quite hard to explain to someone that hasn’t had any addiction problems the feelings that come up because I don’t think there’s anything that you can compare it to or replicate to get that sort of empathy from them, really, if they haven’t experienced that compulsion, that need, that desire, that waking up at two o’clock in the morning shaking because you haven’t put a bet on or you can’t find five pounds to put your next bet on. I think it’s quite hard to actually explain to someone that feeling without them having experienced it themselves, really. I think it’s quite difficult to get… because a lot of people, I mean, a lot of people were very understanding these days of addiction and how it entails. But some people aren’t educated in how it actually manifests, as some people do still see it as a choice, a lifestyle choice. You’re choosing to put this bet on. It’s not a choice. There was no choice. The choice for me to be able to gamble went out the window long, a long, long time ago. It’s quite… the fun stops stop slogan is quite disrespectful, really because they’re implying that it was fun, and it is fun. And if you’ve got a problem then you should stop. You can’t stop. It stopped being fun for me a long, long time ago, but I couldn’t stop. I couldn’t stop and it took me, it took me a long time to actually realize that it was a problem.


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