April 12, 2024 3 min read


Gambler Who Started Playing at Age 8 Wants Stricter Ad Rules

A Rotherham man whose gambling addiction began when he was eight years old wants to see stricter gambling regulations implemented on gambling ads

A 33 man from Rotherham who was first introduced to gambling when he was eight years old during a family holiday, has asked for stricter regulations concerning gambling advertisements.

As presented by the BBC, the man, who reportedly had his first encounter with fruit machines and penny slots at a seaside amusement arcade when he was a child, also issued warnings on the potential cost of living crisis that could trigger widespread issues for players at the start of the year. 

Harmless Fun Turned Into Serious Addiction 

Over the course of the next two decades, what started as a seemingly innocent harness fun time at the arcades became a serious problem for the former player. 

As he got older, he began asking his family members to place bets for him before he could personally visit fixed-odds betting terminals when he turned 18.

His new habit of repeatedly placing bets of hundreds of pounds eventually started leading to trouble, spiraling into overdose and homelessness issues.

In 2018, the man, who is now a lorry driver, managed to give up his addictive gambling habit, expressing feelings of “content” following the state of “absolute chaos” that he was in. 

“I Saw It As a Warm and Safe Environment”

Speaking about the way his addiction started, the ex-player explained he was “immediately” lured in by the “bright lights of the arcades, the sounds of the machines and the coins dropping.” He added that he regarded the arcades as “a warm and safe environment.”

Throughout his “gambling career,” he estimates that he lost over £100,000 ($124,600) and he continues to owe around £30,000 ($37,000).

At the moment, he is incapable of getting a mortgage loan or a mobile phone contract. 

While emphasizing the financial implications gambling can potentially trigger in the long run, the former addict also spoke about the time he lost “when he was not present.”

The Turning Point 

Six years ago, the man reached his turning point when he believed he had three critical choices left: go to prison, take his own life, or give up gambling.

He explained he was “just so tired and fed up and knew deep down, it was time” to let go. 

His wife was also affected by his addiction, suffering a mental breakdown because of his gambling, which he considered was one of his lowest points.

He decided to ask for support from the National Gambling Helpline which he described as “lovely and non-judgemental.” While recovery happened gradually, sometimes occurring minutes at a time,“ at the moment, the former player says he is “in a good place.”

The Need for Better Education for Parents 

Gambling With Lives, a charity in the UK, speaks about approximately 500 suicides connected to gambling-related issues each year in England, as well as 80,000 children who are at risk, or already suffering from gambling addiction.

The ex-gambler himself has a three-year-old daughter. While he does not blame his parents or the adults in his life for allowing him to gamble from a young age, he does acknowledge that gambling was “normalized” around him.

For this reason, he is asking for better education for parents concerning the potential perils of gambling, along with stricter sets of rules regarding gambling advertising.

The former player also hopes his life story will be used as a warning for the next generation regarding the potential harm of gambling, with hopes to one day make a documentary.

Recently, a Bristol University on social media gambling advertisements has asked for a series of regulatory changes in the UK.

After finishing her master's in publishing and writing, Melanie began her career as an online editor for a large gaming blog and has now transitioned over towards the iGaming industry. She helps to ensure that our news pieces are written to the highest standard possible under the guidance of senior management.

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