Belfast Telegraph

Gambling adverts led my father to end up in prison

By Adam Bradford

Two years ago my father ended up in jail because of online gambling. He stole £50,000 from his employers to pay for his gambling addiction - both the addiction and his court case were kept secret from me, my mum and my two brothers.

I was 21 at the time when a solicitor called us to tell us that our father was in the back of a van on his way to prison.

My father had a gambling addiction, a disorder in the mind which is likened to drug and alcohol abuse. For this reason, watching the endless stream of gambling advertisements during the Euros has made me deeply uneasy.

Encouragement for in-game betting and even offers promising a free bet if you lose on your first go has risen 600% since the sector was deregulated.

Gambling activates the endorphin which can give you a buzz or a 'high' and keeps you wanting more. Aggressively marketing gambling as some kind of laddish pastime which could bag you a small fortune means that gambling addiction is on the rise. My dad himself admits he was lured to bet many more times than he wanted to by constant advertising to him. Even those not addicted could easily be led near the verge of unaffordable gambling by the sheer scale of advertising. A matter for personal choice you might say, but if an addiction is taking hold it can be difficult to stay in control.

Gambling is a regulated industry and companies spend money to ensure support is made available for those who suffer with gambling-related problems.

I can't help but think that this huge rise in advertisements is seriously unhealthy. I don't want gambling to be banned or stopped but there needs to be a sensible, considered approach to advertising planning which reduces potential for harm to arise through the potential dangers in gambling.

Belfast Telegraph


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