As a report is published on the government's draft gambling bill, here are some personal stories from recovering addicts, taken from the Gambler's Anonymous website:
I sat here a month ago, having gambled away virtually everything I owned, just staring at my monitor as the message from the on line casino read "No more funds, please visit the cashier".
For what? Was he going to be a sport and give me all my money back? Of course not.
They just hoped that the same, sorry cycle would start again. You know; deposit, lose, deposit, lose, deposit, very small win, lose, lose, lose, lose etc.
I had used my mortgage money, which was planned to be used for an extension on my house.
I used up credit card limits and finally maxed out on my overdraft.
That's when I was so desperate for help I found the Gambler's Anonymous site.
The other stories I read were so relevant; it didn't matter about amounts lost, just the fact that we were all gambling in the first place.
To cut a long story short, I told my wife; she went ballistic, I mean I have only lost our house for god's sake!
(She is a wonderful woman, by the way.)
The house is on the market and my credit cards are all cut up, we are moving in with my mother; my two young children think it's an adventure. I am so ashamed.
My wife is sticking by me as we start from scratch.
I will be attending GA meetings but the site has been a Godsend; just by looking at it has given me the courage to stop, admit my problem and start my non-gambling life again.
God bless, and best wishes to all who may read this; take it one day at a time and look at all the things you have which are worth more than money and kicks - kids, family, friends and health. Enjoy your new lives!
I know that I have a problem with gambling. I want to stop so badly but just can't seem to do it.
I am thousands of pounds in debt and too scared to tell my family and friends that I have this problem.
I bet on anything and everything and the stakes have been getting bigger and bigger.
I know that I have to do something about this.
I am only 24, I want to start enjoying life.
I have a lovely wife and two children that I love to bits.
I have been gambling for over ten years and things finally came to a head on 27 August 2003.
I had just come out of the bookies feeling so depressed after another pointless afternoon squandering money.
I was driving my wife and children out for a day out to the park but was unable to control my tears.
I turned the car around and dropped the children off at my mother-in-law's, and I then proceeded to tell my wife of my gambling addiction whilst still crying my eyes out.
I had taken out to finance my addiction and was in debt up to £#####.
My wife has stood by me and I did not go to the bookies again for three months.
I thought I was over the problem until, for no apparent reason, I went back in on New Year's Eve.
I then continued to gamble for a further month.
On 27 January 2004 I broke down in tears to my friend, admitting I cannot carry on wasting my life like this.
He leant me £200 to cover the money I'd gambled so that my wife did not need to know.
It is now two weeks since I walked into a bookies.
Yesterday I saw the manager of the bookies that I used to go in and told her to ban me if she ever saw me in the place again.
I desperately want to beat this problem, because when I don't gamble I feel such a better person.
Today I feel very low. I am stuck in a cycle of gambling that has been eroding my life for many years.
Thoughts of self-destruction cloud my mind.
I find it difficult to face my finances for fear of confronting the full mountain of debt my life so far has created. I am dwarfed and crushed by it.
The knowledge I can never win these debts away is debilitating to me. It makes me collapse inside.
I am a divorced man and my life is unhappy.
My gambling prevents me from addressing the issues that make my life, by providing me with an immediate ever growing and ever more urgent problem.
I have no one to surrender my finances too.
I feel unworthy of ever finding someone with whom to share my life as I feel I can only offer them my misery.
I am stuck in a whirlpool and whichever way I swim seems to be against the tide. I will try GA again, I have before.
I cannot truthfully say I believe it can save me, but I get the feeling its the only game in town that might.
I have withdrawn my membership of all casinos and instructed them not to let me rejoin. I hope it is a start.
My mother received details of her pension yesterday, £38 per week.
Knowing the hundreds and thousands of pounds I have wasted makes me feel ashamed in the light of that.
I have a son. I love him. I never gamble in front of him, or talk of gambling. I truly hope he never takes my road.
I will try again for his sake and mine. Wish me luck.
Being a compulsive gambler is an illness that I will have to live with every day until I die.
But it is an illness that I now control rather than the illness controlling me.
I have gambled heavily since the age of 16, I am now 44.
I have been in and out of GA regularly since the age of 26. Each time I failed to control my addition, I ended up making up for lost time and I gambled even more as my addition simply got worse the longer I gambled.
I have not gambled since April 2003, but initially I was not dealing with all the character defects that I have as a result of the addition.
I came back to GA last November and, although I can't always get to a meeting regularly, each time I go to a meeting my recovery seems to be more complete.
I have thought about why I have managed to stop gambling this time round, and it has basically been a case of me accepting that I have an addition that causes havoc in my life if I gamble.
I accept that I can never gamble again, not even small stakes on the lottery or a raffle.
I do not associate myself with gambling; it's slightly easier for me to do this as my poison was horses.
I don't read the form or watch races on the TV, and I have a daily routine that I try to stick to each day, which keeps my mind occupied with activities other than thoughts of gambling.
My life is so much better without gambling.
I can sleep at night and, although I still have to deal with the fall out that my gambling has caused, my future is not one filled with lies and deceit and despair.
Instead it is filled with happiness and peace of mind.
I gambled on and off for years, little bets and fruit machines.
I've always been shy which is odd as I am a big man and well built.
I have always had a feeling I was on the outside looking in and am insecure in myself.
As a consequence I started playing the big-shot, working as a bouncer to cover it up, and of course took my gambling to the next level.
Last January I blew £## in fruit machines in a few hours then it went from there.
I kept up the image of the big-shot by mentioning by few big wins and getting the drinks in, and telling no-one when I'd lost.
By Christmas I was thousands in debt and had cut a trip abroad short because I'd blown all my money in a few days. At one point in a casino, I was £#### up and I cashed my chips in, then changed them back and lost it all. And there were others like this.
I sent an email to my family and to those who I considered my closest friends.
I didn't just say about the gambling, I told them about my insecurities and what made me feel this way.
I was embarrassed as this was a side of me that I didn't reveal to anyone.
All a lot of people saw was me spending cash, living fast and being everyone's mate, but none of the angst, which I do have.
All my friends were very supportive and if anyone is reading this and feels like I did then I can say that if anyone is truly a friend they will be there for you. If they aren't, they are not worth bothering with.
I can start to move on now. But it's hard. A few weeks ago I went to a casino and lost £###, and I also lost £## on fruit machines this week.
I may attend meetings in the future. I feel as though I've taken the first step though, and luckily I am in a position where I have no kids or a house and can stay at home - it's better to get things out now than ten years on where I could lose a lot more than just cash.
And if any other big shy lads like me are reading this and if one person says "I can admit my problems too" then please do so, it's the only sensible thing I've done in the last twelve months.
Be true to your nature, know your worth and good luck, I'll be thinking of you.
(Sorry if any of this sounds self-indulgent.)