Meetings & Information


Saturday, November 30, 2013

“crack cocaine of gambling”

Man blew £250,000 on slot machines branded the “crack cocaine of gambling”

James Petherick was driven to the brink of ­suicide by the devastating impact of ­betting ­terminals on which ­you can gamble up to £100 in 20 seconds

Slippy slope: James Petherwick started taking out loans
Slippy slope: James Petherwick started taking out loans

Skint James Petherick has told how he blew £250,000in 10 years on slot machines ­branded the “crack ­cocaine of ­gambling”.

Welder James, 37, spoke about the devastating impact of fixed odds ­betting ­terminals on which ­you can gamble up to £100 in 20 seconds.

He was driven to the brink of ­suicide by a crippling ­addiction to the casino-style machines that are found in bookies and are now the target of a Sunday People campaign. He said: “I’d stop on the way home, go into a bookies and pour all my wages into these machines.

“I’ve worked hard all my life but I don’t have a pension or savings. I don’t own anything. I’ve lost a girlfriend, jobs, the lot. I don’t have a family, I don’t have a business.

“I don’t think I will ever ­recover from this. That’s the impact these slots have.”

James spiralled into debt after being introduced to the fixed odds terminals in 2002.

He recalled: “I’d lose £20 and chase it with £40. Soon I was spending all my wages in one go and taking out loans. I had ­multiple overdrafts and credit cards. I’d make up excuses for having no cash.

But I split from my girlfriend when she found the extent of my betting.

“I had a good job in London. I was clearing £40,000 a year and lived rent-free with a relative. I didn’t even have to pay ­electricity, gas or council tax.
The hands of a gambler holding a cigarette and placing a bet
Danger: James ended up sleeping in his car

“But I spent everything I had on the machines. I started losing jobs because I was too poor to fill up my car to get to work.”

James, who lives in Amesbury, Wilts, went on: “I ended up sleeping in my car. By 2008 I was considering taking my life.”

As he struggled to quit, he posted a video clips of himself confessing his problems on YouTube. His Diary of a Compulsive Gambler has been watched half a million times.

Many viewers shared their stories with James, who has been bet-free since New Year’s Eve.

He added: “High stakes gambling should never have been allowed on the High Street. Action needs to be taken.”

A Sunday People five-point plan unveiled last week calls for fresh rules restricting operators of high stakes machines.


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