People with lived experience of harm from gambling share their stories through the ALLIANCE’s Humans of Scotland series.
These stories showcase the impact that gambling can have on people’s lives. Gambling can cause significant harm to people; including relationship breakdown; money problems; stress and anxiety; and in some extreme circumstances, suicide. For every person that experiences problems with gambling, on average six other people in their lives will be negatively affected.
The ALLIANCE’s Scotland Reducing Gambling Harm programme aims to hear from people affected by gambling, to find out what it means to them and what impact it has had on their lives. The programme works with them and their expertise to create policy recommendations to make gambling safer.
Excerpts from stories
“Sadly at 25 years of age I tried to take my own life. At that point I wasn’t going to gamble again. But it was too powerful. I came out the hospital and next day I was gambling. I went on to steal. That’s where the addiction took me to, to desperate, desperate measures.
My experience is you can recover. I have a beautiful life today. I have a loving, caring partner who I love with all my heart. I’ve got love in my heart, I’ve got happiness, I’ve got peace, I’ve got sadness. I’ve got all the emotions that one person should feel. And I’m able to be a mum, that’s all I ever wanted.”
“Throughout most of my teenage years and continuing on into most of my twenties, I struggled on and off with gambling: mostly on sports betting, which manifested into Casino games – namely roulette and for a time, online slots. But at the height of my addiction, I was chaotically betting on pretty much everything. I tried giving up, but I always found myself back at square one. I really needed help.”
“That’s one of the problems with gamblers. People get bored and have nothing to do and they turn to gambling as a form of excitement. It’s often not to do so much with the money until they lose and chase the loss.
I’m horrified, horrified with the money I’m spending firstly chasing my natural high then chasing my loses. I’d like to be back in the days when I could play poker for fun with no money. Gambling is a disease that can be caught. The odds are always against you.”
“Gambling can take you to really dark places and although it didn’t take my life, it most certainly took most things from it. Not only nearly every penny I earned, but any social invites would dry up because I always made excuses to gamble instead. £100 loans became £1000s and I spent most of my adult life juggling or avoiding bills. I was heavily in debt and my relationships were superficial at best”
“It was all-consuming. There were days I would bet on every horse race in Britain then follow it up with a punt on an obscure overnight football match, thousands of miles away. Not so enjoyable. Gambling at that frenzied pace affected my mood and relationships, caused stress, anxiety and debt. It got to the stage where I daren’t look at my bank statements. Ironically, my salvation finally came because somebody else did just that.”
ALLIANCE Chief Executive, Ian Welsh said: “These powerful stories demonstrate the impact that gambling can have on people’s lives. They are filled with accounts of people whose whole lives and social circle were affected by gambling. It echoes what we’re hearing throughout our engagement on this topic; that we need to take a wider, public health approach to reducing gambling harm. The Scotland Reducing Gambling Harm programme at the ALLIANCE is all about ensuring that people with experience of gambling harms have a voice and are involved in taking that public health approach to reducing gambling harms in Scotland.”
Gambling Commission Chair William Moyes said: “Stories like these exemplify exactly why tackling gambling related harm is so important. They are the reason why we launched the National Strategy to Reduce Gambling Harms (this link will take you away from our website) and why we will continue to push forward its agenda.”