The Musings Of An Opinionated Sod [Help Me Grow!]

Saying You Care Means Nothing If Your Actions Show You Don’t …

One of the things that has shocked me since coming back to England is the amount of gambling that goes on here.

Not just in terms of people actually doing it, but brands trying to get people to do it.

It’s everywhere.

Football shirts. High Streets. Apps. TV shows.

I know it shouldn’t really shock me as there has been so much written about it in the papers, but the sheer volume has blown me away.

Another thing that has blown me away – for equally bad reason – is the way the gambling companies are trying to portray themselves as good citizens.

That all their ads say, ‘When the fun stops, stop’ – or some variant of it – might sound like they care, but apart from the fact there’s countless stories of them actively encouraging people who are demonstrating the have a problem with gambling to keep going, it makes no sense.

Because the moment you realise gambling has stopped being fun, you’re pretty likely to be in the grip of addiction.

Or said another way, it’s too late.

Once upon a time, I was in that place.

I was young and the amount of money we’re talking is minute … but I was in a full-on addiction to fruit machines.

I was still a student and working part time as a pot washer, and within seconds of receiving my weekly pay packet, I’d be feeding all of it into a fruit machine.

Occasionally I would win big (£25) but most of the time I’d spend my weeks earnings within minutes – leaving me without a penny.

Now I’m lucky, I was able to stop – mainly because credit was not readily available back then, because if it was, who knows what shit I would have got myself into – but I can still remember how much I hated myself when I lost but how excited I was when I was about to begin.

And yet, despite knowing what I was doing to myself, I was unable to stop myself for months.

While I would not wish that on anyone, it was a hugely valuable lesson.

It taught me I have an addictive personality and helped me to manage what I do and don’t expose myself too.

Sure, I buy a shitload of pointless gadgets, crap t-shirts, guitars and Birkenstocks. But it’s also why I haven’t tried any alcohol since my last taste 34 years ago, why I’ve never tried any drugs and why I never tried smoking – though that one was easier, as I’ve always hated the smell.

I do believe that people have to take some responsibility for the decisions and actions they take – but addiction is something we have to accept, skirts the rules of logic.

You become helpless and need controlled.

And given the impact certain addictions can have on people is loss of health and/or loss of livelihood and family … having a note in small letters at the end of an ad that has spent 29 of the 30 seconds celebrating the excitement and glamour of gaming – and then puts all the burden of managing addiction on the victim – seems pretty shit.

26 Comments so far
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The gambling industry tries so hard to look respectable but all their actions show they can’t be trusted. As for you Robert. You forgot to mention you have got in trouble with people who were convinced you were drunk or high when perfectly clean, which says you’re more dangerous than alcohol or drugs.

Comment by George

Seeing Rob arrested for being drunk and disorderly when I knew he was sober was one of the strangest and strangely satisfying moments of my life.

Comment by Pete

One of the most strangely satisfying moments of your life? Your entire life? Bloody hell that’s a bit tough on me isn’t it.

Comment by Rob

I may have exaggerated.

Comment by Pete

you werent.

Comment by andy@cynic

I didn’t know about the fruit machine addiction. I’m proud you talked about it and prouder still you got past it.

Comment by George

+ 1

Comment by Pete

+ 2

Comment by Lee Hill

It was a long, long time ago and the amounts I could lose were relatively small. It definitely could have got worse but it didn’t. If it happened today – with relatively easy to obtain credit and very easy to gamble tech – maybe it would have been different. I’m glad I don’t feel an urge to find out.

Comment by Rob

Doesn’t matter how long ago it was Robert.

Comment by George

funny how you were totally fucking fine gambling with my reputation and livelihood campbell.

Comment by andy@cynic


Comment by Mary Bryant


Comment by DH

Well said Rob. The gambling industry are even more manipulative than the tobacco industry. Putting statements out encouraging people to gamble responsibly only work if they change their behavours and technology to stop encouraging addictive behavour. Good post.

Comment by Pete

Yep. I once did work for a casino and while seeing behind the curtain was fascinating in terms of their creative approach, it was also horrifying how they psychologically designed games to keep you playing.

I should point out I’m not anti-gambling. Far from it. I’m just saying they need to take more responsibility for their actions than a badly written, misinformed, ad-structured, pithy statement.

Comment by Rob

It’s like the alcohol companies asking you to drink responsibly while tying to extend licensing laws and offering bigger alcohol deals.

Comment by Pete

Bet the brief to whoever wrote that statement was “make gambling sound fun. And make anyone who doesn’t find it fun, their issue.”

Comment by Bazza

Yes. Absolutely. Totally feels like that. Good point.

Comment by Rob

I think you nailed the brief Baz.

Comment by DH

What an excellent point Robert. That phrase had always bothered me but I was never sure why. Thanks to you and to Baz, who also raises a good point, I do.

Comment by Lee Hill

The rampant gambling’s just another sign that people are struggling financially. Not sure if any anti-gambling caption would be of much help, if buying the lottery is explained as “buying hope”.

Comment by TSNG

I hear you. But the lottery is nothing compared to the online apps … where they literally give you ‘free bets’ under the guise of showing they want you to win when everyone can see it’s really to suck you in.

Again, I have no problem with gambling but I do have a problem that they put all the burden of control on the people while they actively try to undermine any individuals resolve with more games, credit and addiction.

Comment by Rob

This is a good post Rob. I imagine people stuck at home with little to do are turning to gambling apps to get some excitement in their life. What’s the chances gambling websites are turning anyone away?

Comment by DH

I heard there’s a gambling site that lets you bet on marble racing. I have to admit, I find marble racing quite exciting but allowing people to bet on it is like having Snow White appear on pornhub. Where gambling cash is concerned, it seems anything goes.


Comment by Rob

2018! This has been running since 2018?

Comment by DH

Did you read this Robert?

Comment by George

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