Two gamblers have spoken out about their struggles as the Government announced a second review on addictive fixed-odds betting terminals (FOBTs).
James Lowe said: “I think about using the machines all the time. Every day. Several times a day. Twenty minutes ago. It’s just there all the time.”
His biggest loss was £5,000 in just over an hour.
He admitted that he didn’t think about what would happen “if I lose that £200 in a few minutes and can’t eat for the next two weeks”.
On one occasion, after losing around £2,000 he was so angry he was advised by staff that he would have to leave if he didn’t calm down.
“I said, ‘That’s what I want, I physically can’t stop myself. You need to step in and stop me because I can’t.'”
However, he was allowed to go on to lose another £3,000.
Lowe spoke of how he felt when he lost, saying: “I’ve been suicidal, I’ve got angry and violent and abusive.”
He added, “when I’m in that zone, I don’t care what’s going on around me or who’s around me, it doesn’t matter who’s there if it’s family, friends or whatever. I’ll just deliberately self-destruct.”
He called on the Government to lower the maximum stake from £100 down to £5 or £2, and to also reduce the jackpot.
Another addict, Martin Paterson, also called for the maximum stakes to be lowered substantially after being left a “broken man”.
He said it would be “catastrophic” if the Government permitted anything more than a £2 maximum stake, and if they did not increase the time between spins from 20 to 60 seconds.
He became addicted in 2005, shortly after the law was liberalised, and has lost thousands of pounds since, saying: “Once you walk in the door it takes over your life.” He now campaigns for changes to legislation around FOBTs.
Paterson said: “I lost everything,” adding, “You end up a broken man. I realised I wasn’t a father, I wasn’t a husband. I was a possessed animal.”