Man who started betting at 8 years old gambled away over £100k

A man who started gambling when he was just 8 years old has called for parents to be better educated on the dangers of betting.

Kieren Smith, who is now 33, said he was attracted to the “bright lights of the arcades” as a child and started using slot machines while gambling was “normalised” around him.

But he gave up in 2018 after the “absolute chaos” it caused, realising that it would push him towards prison or suicide.


Over 20 years of gambling, Smith lost over £100,000 and still remains £30,000 in debt.

But he said more importantly than financial problems there was “so much time when he was not present” and his wife suffered a mental breakdown due to his gambling.

After seeking help from the National Gambling Helpline, he encouraged others to do the same and called for stricter laws on gambling advertising.


Earlier this year, it was revealed that the number of people seeking help for problem gambling rose by over 10,000 in 2023.

More than 52,000 people called the National Gambling Helpline in 2023 asking for support or counselling, up from around 42,000 in 2022.

Some advisors for the helpline said they had noticed more people contacting them because they were concerned about someone else’s gambling, and that this was particularly noticeable during the Christmas period.

Also see:

‘Slot machine farms’ multiplying on Britain’s high streets

Govt seeks to curb online slot addiction

‘I went to jail for stealing £1.3m to gamble away’

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