Service helps gambling addicts lock themselves out of gaming sites
An innovative service barring online gambling addicts from websites has received one referral a week from Belfast, the man behind the scheme said.
It redirects emails from problem users to regulated gaming sites in the UK and Ireland requesting they be locked out.
Otherwise they would have to visit dozens of webpages themselves to make individual requests and be vulnerable to relapsing.
The pioneering scheme has only been running for a couple of months but has already referred six people and works closely with the Dunlewey addiction counselling service in Belfast, creator Peter Hamilton said.
"For every person I help it feels awesome.
"When someone comes to me and says that they have problems it is a nightmare situation for them if they have an addictive personality.
"It is 24 hours a day and you can really max out your credit card and get into severe problems from messing about online.
"It is good to know that they say it works and that they are barred online."
Dunlewey offers a free and confidential counselling and mentoring programme for those experiencing difficulties with their own, or other people's substance misuse or gambling issues.
Mr Hamilton lives in Sligo and hopes to obtain funding from the Health and Safety Executive. The web designer, 34, is originally from Stewartstown in Co Tyrone.
"My service bars people online from gambling - it is their decision, they need help, so as a support role I can advise them... they have to be proactive in replying to every email sent back to them.
"I send off emails on their behalf to websites with gambling - phone casino, online bingo, online poker - aiming to get barred off both the site and gaming network. Networks bar you off loads more sites.
"Having a severe gambling problem is suffice, some people have a mental problem which is associated or addiction problems in general.
"Once I get a reply and genuine permission and the go ahead I send the emails out on their behalf, the replies all come back to them, with a bit of skill.
"At the moment I am getting referrals from counsellors to use my service as a preventative measure."
The website is www.onlinegamblingaddiction.net.