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
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.
“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.