The global economic downturn led to many people suffering from mounting debts. While times were good, banks were lending money, but when the economy crashed and people lost their jobs or had their hours cut, they found that they could no longer afford the lifestyle they had become accustomed to.
With mounting debts and growing pressure from lenders, a large proportion turned to online gambling in an effort to win big and solve their problems. And with constant advertising from online gaming sites offering the chance to win huge amounts of money, and with the promise of free bets for new account holders, there was more incentive than ever to gamble.
The world today is heavily reliant on the internet, and it is no longer necessary to sit at a desktop computer at home in order to get online. Today, everyone can access the internet easily through mobile devices such as laptops, tablets, and smartphones. Easy access to the internet means easy access to online gaming sites. Tens of thousands of people across the UK are developing problem gambling habits because of online gaming sites; however, a growing number are becoming addicted to the high stakes betting machines found in almost every betting shop across the country.
Fixed Odds Betting Terminals
Fixed odds betting terminals (FOBTs) offer punters the chance to bet up to £100 per spin. With three spins possible every minute, it is easy to lose thousands of pounds in a relatively short space of time.
Campaigners have called on the Government to reduce the maximum spin from £100 to £2 in a bid to curb the nations growing problem; one such campaigner is Wendy Bendel whose partner took his life after losing thousands on these machines.
In just a year, Lee Murphy lost around £30,000 on FOBTs. As his addiction spiralled out of control, Lee began borrowing from payday loan companies and even took out loans in Wendys name without her knowledge or consent.
Wendy said, The Government allowed these terminals into bookies, but they now have to stop the despair these machines can cause. I guarantee there are more people out there like Lee.
She admits that she only became aware of how bad Lees addiction was when, in February 2014, he tried to take his life. Once admitted to a psychiatric facility at Aberdeens Royal Cornhill Hospital, he confessed to having had a gambling addiction for the past twenty years. He believed the only way to stop was if he took his life.
Lack of Support
Wendy believes that gambling addicts do not get the same support that alcoholics or drug addicts are given. She said, Lee was given a mental health wellness plan to fill in, which included his goals, barriers and action plan. But there was no support from anyone with a medical background.
Once released from hospital, Lee was back at the betting shops again, and Wendy found the betting slips to prove it. Nonetheless, Lee lied about this and told her the date was wrong on the slips. He eventually admitted it and said he had been trying to win money to give to Wendy.
Lee described his addiction in his suicide letter and said it was shameful, embarrassing, deceitful, a killer. He explained how he felt every time he was about to get paid and how he would chase losses. After his suicide attempt, he attended Gamblers Anonymous but, after losing £900 in less than twenty minutes at an Aberdeen casino in May 2014, he took his life.
Wendy is now calling for the Advertising Standards Authority to adopt a stronger role in preventing the gambling industry from portraying gambling as fun.