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Last Updated: Tuesday, 20 April, 2004, 13:37 GMT 14:37 UK
'Gamblers are damaged by their habit'
casino
Laws on casinos are changing
Campaigners are warning that changes to gambling laws could leave more people at risk of addiction - and the mental health problems it causes.

BBC News Online explains the problem.

Patrick was so addicted to gambling that it destroyed his life.

Once an accountant, he blew not only his own money but his firm's on his habit when he lost control.

He said: "I was spending every minute of every day gambling or thinking about gambling, and how to get money to gamble.

"I am not proud of it, but I had the petty cash in my possession and one day I had 3,200 of it.

"I lost more than four grand in that one day in the bookmakers."

It ranges from people who are unhappy about what is happening to people who have quite seriously considered suicide
Adrian Scarfe, GamCare
On another occasion, Patrick's father was in hospital for a major operation, but he did not go to see him because he was too busy feeding his habit.

"He phoned me from the hospital, he could have died from it," he said.

"I cried my eyes out when I put down the phone, but I couldn't even be bothered to go and see him because it would have interfered with my gambling."

The organisation GamCare provides support and counselling to people who have an addiction to gambling.

Damaged

Adrian Scarfe, its clinical practice manager, said: "Virtually every one of them has been damaged in one way or another by gambling.

"Mostly it is financial loss or it has affected their relationships, but it also has severe after effects in terms of anxiety and depression.

"It ranges from people who are unhappy about what is happening, to people who have quite seriously considered suicide."

Steve, the boyfriend of a persistent gambler, described the pain it has caused him and his step child and the mental health effects on his girlfriend.

He said: "Ever since I have known her she has gambled, and quite openly admits to having a problem.

"We have tried locking the money in secure boxes, which she just breaks into. She has stolen and lied, all to get money to gamble, and yet I have forgiven her.

"She has some health problems including anxiety attacks.

"The nearest Gamblers Anonymous meeting is 15 miles away, and is too far for her to travel because of her illness.

"I love her and my stepson very much, but the abuse and anger I have put up with over the years is now becoming unbearable."

Names have been changed.




SEE ALSO:
'Responsible' gambling law pledge
20 Apr 04  |  Politics


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