The gambling timebomb

 

Watching ‘Love Island’ on  ITV with my gambling boyfriend and three teenagers I was struck by just how many gambling adverts there are on TV. I rarely watch TV, apart from BBC1 and so this was an eyeopener. The marketing budget of these firms must be huge. Caught in the grip of a gambling nightmare unfolding under my own roof with my boyfriend and his issues it saddened me to think that my children, innocently watching a programme they love are the next bate for this dreadful industry.

Today the UK’s biggest five gambling firms have agreed to contribute more money to fund treatment for problem gamblers. Compared to what they jointly make – a staggering £10 billion, the £60 million it has agreed to pledge is a drop in the ocean and only comes amid criticism on the industry to wake up and do something. It is quite frankly an insult to the countless families up and down the country crippled by this insidious illness because of partners who gamble.

We are on the precipice of a gambling epidemic, encouraged by the lack of regulation on this industry. The gambling industry needs to suffer the same fate that the alcohol and tobacco industry faced. There needs to be a complete ban on advertising across all medias and during sporting events.

I feel very angry today because of this latest news because I had to chuck away a perfectly lovely relationship a couple of days ago because my boyfriend wouldn’t stop gambling. Not even my love, support and a roof over his head could stop him. There were countless excuses as to why he needed to gamble – and we’re talking huge amounts here – 95% of his income – nothing was going to stop this addiction. Dumping him and his bags on the roadside back in the town where he’d come from was the most difficult thing I’ve ever had to do. But living around an addict was like a scene from a Victorian milltown when some men fecklessly frittered all their money away in the pub. Money is the water of life; it’s impossible to get through life without money and I didn’t want to watch his money drain away into a machine when it could pay for bills, holidays and all the good times. It was truly agonising to watch and damned frustrating when there was nothing I could say or do to help.

The Government needs to wake up to this timebomb waiting to happen. There should be clinics in every large town and this should be paid for by the gambling industry. I don’t want to see the directors of these firms sunning themselves on board their luxury yachts in the south of France – I want to see them admit to the wrecking of lives, because indirectly they are causing poverty, divorce, loneliness, homelessness and suicide. Let’s make gambling the tobacco of tomorrow and say enough is enough.

Thank you for reading. My latest novel, ‘Gambling Broke Us’ is a novel all about this nasty illness.

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