Alarming stories of lives turned upside down by addictive betting machines have been revealed in the wake of an investigation that laid bare Britain’s gambling ‘epidemic’.
A 27-year-old man said his life was made a misery by Fixed-Odds Betting Terminals (FOBTs), which ruined relationships with friends and family.
Another man said that when he used FOBTs – often described as the ‘crack cocaine’ of gambling because of their addictive nature – “only that next spin” mattered.
The stories came from Guardian readers following an investigation by The Times which showed that the NHS has started prescribing drugs to the worst addicts.
Last month David Cameron’s former speechwriter spoke out against FOBTs, prompting politicians to call for the Government to act.
The Cabinet Office blocked a review of the machines last year.
You get lost in your own little world and have tunnel visionCarl
Speaking about his experiences, Joseph said when he was just 21 he was in £12,000 debt. That rose to £25,000 by the time he was 25 and now at 27 he is striving to pay a debt “which will tie me down for the next five years”.
He said he got “hooked on FOBT machines instantly” which led to “a life of misery” and “ruined relationships with friends and family”.
Carl told the Guardian that he once had to walk five miles home because he had lost all his money on FOBTs.
“You get lost in your own little world and have tunnel vision, nothing matters only that next spin whatever the consequences”, he said.
An anonymous student spoke out against gambling more generally, explaining how he broke down in tears after finally revealing his problem to his parents. Now he is “proudly a year clean”.
Another reader, Steve, said he is in “financial ruin” because of his gambling which led him to deceive his friends and family in order to get more money.
Ahead of this week’s investigation, residents in North West London had spoken out against a ‘mini Las Vegas’ in their area – a road in Kilburn which has eight bookmakers and four gambling arcades.
The Daily Mail spoke to a mother who said people who gamble are “playing with the lives of their loved ones”.