I describe myself and the others that have suffered immeasurable harm, through the exploitations of the gambling industry, as ‘survivors’. We are regularly reminded of our hurtful disordered gambling past when on a day-by-day basis we are met with either a news story or we are joined by another brave disordered gambler who decides to take up the survivor stance via social media. Some are even brave enough to go public with their story. What makes us survivors? I truly believe that this is likely to be a mixture of bravery, determination and the support we are provided and sometimes luck and fate too. Others haven’t be so fortunate to branded as survivors, many have taken their own lives.
We all wear the scars of our experiences, some of us have long term mental and physical health problems. Some of us have ruined our financial position, whether that be the loss of a house, the overbearing maxing-out of credit, a never-ending agreed repayment plan or even the loss of our financial freedom to a family member as we cannot be trusted to deal with our own finances likely never to be given any form of credit again. We have experienced family relationship trauma which includes the alienation of close loved-ones, the breakup of relationships and the exclusion from us taking an active part in our children’s lives. Some of us have served or are currently serving a long custodial sentence due to crimes committed to fund our gambling. Once again, we all seem to be very good at taking responsibility for our own action which have lead us into the position we find ourselves in today, in many guises that the legacy of exploitation has left for us.
What compounds our pain and makes everything a whole lot worse is when we eventually realise that we as people suffering from a serious and identifiable disorder (gambling disorder) were not only failed by the operators we gambled with, who should have protected us as vulnerable people, there were also strict rules and guidance set out by the Gambling Commission which sets out the easily identifiable markers to highlight the tell-tale signs of what was happening to us and that intervention was required by these operators in these most blatant of instances. These companies are well aware of the rules with several high-profile companies having been fined by the Gambling Commission, some more than once because they failed multiple vulnerable people.
It appears that the industry as a whole does not care about these rules, is aware that disordered gamblers are seen as a high profit margin to them and therefore actually encourage our disordered behaviour instead of intervening and protecting us. These are bosses of multibillion-pound companies that have numerous senior positions, often with prepostorous pay-checks and bonuses and share allocations.
So my question to these people within these companies is; how would you be able to sleep at night if it was your Mum, your Dad, your brother, your sister, your son or daughter, or any other family member or friend who was the one who had or was currently suffering from a gambling disorder, who had clearly been exploited instead of being protected? Do not read this with a pinch of salt. Have a conscience and comprehend the part you have played in the destruction of our lives at the expense of your lavish lifestyles. Now we have come away from our destructive lives, we are unlocking our potential, which was always been suppressed by our disordered lives. I hope those of you that know what you’ve done have a conscience and make up for your wrongs.