As I write this the government review that was expected to reduce stakes on Fixed Odds Betting Terminals from £100 to £2 will now take effect in October 2019 not 2018. In that extra year £1.8bn will be lost on these machines and at least two more people, every single day, will commit suicide because of gambling-related problems.
So FOBTs create vast profits for the Gambling industry and it doesn’t take Einstein to see why they do not want this money machine to end. Yet the gamblers are real people, flesh and blood, that can be losing thousands of pounds a time playing on the ‘crack cocaine’ of betting machines. Terrifyingly it is possible to bet up to £100 every 20 seconds.
These Fixed Odds Betting machines were clearly designed to create addiction and reap huge rewards for the betting industry without a second thought for the consequences to those that become addicted. The lives for the addict, their loved ones, colleagues, families, all affected in the most devastating ways. Debt, Fear, relationship breakdowns, antisocial behaviour and suicide are often products of this industrial greed and disregard for human life.
Online gambling is now how most people gamble. Bombarded with adverts all day on the TV. Laptops, tablets and phones. Supposedly harmless Bingo through to Roulette and ‘exclusive’ sites that want your money just like the others. As soon as you look at anything that is Gambling related on line you will receive regular adverts, flashing lights and images trying to seduce you into the next site often with free stake money incentives included.
This is not a battle that is easily won. Addiction is not breakable through logic alone. As an example of this there are still doctors and nurses working on cancer wards that smoke cigarettes even though they are surrounded by the heartbreaking consequences of others doing just that. We cannot logic ourselves out of addiction we must retrain our subconscious mind to think differently and being tempted daily at every turn by the very thing that is causing you such pain is not making any of this easier.
I am often told that on days where the will to stop gambling is strongest a person will contact the sites that they are members of and explain why they want to be locked out / barred, only for more to jump up to tempt them in yet again. This can be a constant process and takes strength and courage and resolve to persevere, exactly what people with addictions don’t have at the start of their journeys to break free of them.
This is all cold, calm and calculated marketing, playing on the vulnerabilities of people that need support and a way out of their gambling issues. This is highly manipulative tactics by the companies and organisations that gain from this pitiful situation. To deal drugs is illegal, to deal Fixed Odds Betting Machines and advertise Gambling sites boldly everywhere is not.
Working with one of my clients a few years ago we discovered together the root of his addiction to gambling. As a very young teen his mother and father had brought him along to the pub every Saturday and Sunday lunchtime and way into each afternoon. He was bored stiff and out would come money for the Fruit Machines to keep him busy and amused while they sat with their friends drinking and smoking. He learnt to see the machine as his friend, the only one he had in that situation. He learnt to win by understanding how it functioned and felt clever and proud of himself for his financial reward and flashing lights and victory sounds. When he lost he just got more money from his parents. By the time I started working with him he was losing his wife and son and his home through gambling. He was hugely in debt and I was his ‘last resort’. Together we worked on his perceptions, attitudes, beliefs and myths around gambling and he stopped. He stopped just in time to start to rebuild his family and his life.
There is always hope of a better future. You CAN stop gambling and you CAN live a better, brighter life. First you have to see the pain that it has caused you and others, start to wake up to where you are and want to make the changes to how you think, dropping the old and unwanted myths of your mind that have kept you addicted.