‘Help people like my dad who was addicted to gambling’

A father whose gambling addiction left him with debts of over £500,000 and a two year prison sentence is now working with his son to campaign for tighter gambling laws.

David Bradford embezzled money from his employer and was found guilty of fraud – but his family only found out about his addiction when he was sent to prison.

Bradford, speaking on Radio 4’s Today programme, said lying and deception come with being a compulsive gambler.

Devastating

His son, Adam Bradford, now manages his father’s money and told presenter James Naughtie that current gambling regulation is not enough.

He recognised that the crime his father had committed was his own responsibility, but also said the gambling industry does not protect vulnerable people.

Describing the addiction as “devastating”, he spoke out against the spread of betting adverts and said that his father was able to bet online despite having huge debts.

Honest

David Bradford said he would engage in “any kind of deceit” without thinking of others and always imagined that the next bet would rescue him from his debts.

“I was a bit like a hamster in a wheel – forever going faster and faster but going nowhere”, he said.

Asked what he would say to others who are addicted to gambling, he urged them to reach out to support networks, and “be honest with their family”.

Pernicious

Writing in The Mail on Sunday, columnist Rachel Johnson criticised the prevalence of gambling adverts and noted how easy it is to get into debt.

She referred to one young person who had amounted debts of nearly £70,000 by betting on the number of goals in a football match.

Johnson said betting is “so accessible and prevalent – thanks to apps and internet-enabled smartphones – that you don’t need to leave the house to place a bet, and so pernicious that it is damning lives, particularly those of young and middle-aged men, often from the lower socio-economic groups”.

She added: “There is no moral or ethical justification to continue the current promotion of this life-destroying, addictive vice, only a mercenary and commercial one”.

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