‘I had £32,000 gambling debt’

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: Temptation: more shops have games machines Temptation: more shops have games machines

A local man has spoken out about how his addiction to online gambling led to massive debt problems.

The man, who wishes to remain anonymous, said he spent up to £200 a week on bets, adding to his racked-up debts of £32,000 at the end of last year.

He spoke out after the Telegraph & Argus launched the Beat the Betting Blight campaign last week, which calls for gambling premises to be required to apply for a special licence or be subject to a special planning category that would give local authorities the power to refuse them if it would be detrimental to the local shopping environment.

There are ten bookies operating in the city centre, as well as eight amusement centres and two casinos.

Speaking to the T&A, the man told of his compulsive habit and said bookmakers’ shops now had roulette and game machines in the shops instead of just the traditional horseracing bets to tempt customers.

He racked up thousands of pounds of debt and used to buy Quick Cash from the bookies – a token with a code to input online – so there is no trace on bank statements about how you have been spending your money.

“It is so easy to gamble online,” he said. “As long as you have a card or you can pay cash over the counter for Quick Cash.

“It is so easy to open an account and bet. I think it is bad that Bradford has so many bookies because I have been there, done it and bought the T-shirt.”

The man got into the betting world when his grandad moved in those circles, but dabbling became more about chasing the ultimate win.

“It got me into debt and I hid bank statements,” he added. “I had lots of people chasing me for money and my wife found out I was spending this money on betting. More and more shops are opening on the High Street and as well as horse racing, cricket and golf, you have fruit machines and electronic games.

“You are chasing the win so you can pay that credit card off, but it never comes.”

He said willpower helped him give up, adding: “I am not an angel and dabble a bit. It might be a fiver once every three months.

“I would say to anyone struggling to get help and look at what you are doing and what you are getting out of it. Are you getting enjoyment or chasing something you are never going to win?”

John Goodfellow, chairman of the Debt Advisory Line, says: “We receive high level of calls each year from people who are struggling with debt derived for a number of reasons, including gambling. Gambling can become an addiction and lead to spiraling debt if the problem gets out of control.

“However, regardless of how bad someone thinks their situation is, we can help them. All our staff are trained to deal with these situations in an empathetic manner and can provide real debt solutions.

“We can offer a range of debt management solutions to suit each individual and help people get back on track with their finances.”

Gamblers Anonymous, which helps those with compulsive gambling habits, said it is recognised as an emotional illness and living with it can prove a devastating experience.

For more details about help visit gamblersanonymous.

org.uk.

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