Gambling addict who lost £1m smashes up bookies after bet texts ‘destroy him’
A dad who lost £1m to a gambling addiction smashed up a Betfred over a dispute over the outcome of a race – and says betting companies' texts have "destroyed him".
The man, who wants to be known as Mark, is desperate to rebuild his life after putting his wife through hell and having to sell the family home.
But he says the lure of constant texts and emails from bookmakers is unbearable – and something needs to change.
He only recently told his family about the issues that have blighted his life over several years after he destroyed six televisions in the East Riding bookmakers.
Mark has lost so much money he claims he even had to sell his house and lost his business as a result of his heavy losses, reports Hull Live.
At one stage, his addiction led him to have “suicidal thoughts” and meant he had to seek help for depression.
But, after a period of recovery, he now says the spiral has begun again after being bombarded with promotional emails from companies such as Betfred encouraging him to gamble – despite taking steps to self-exclude.
Describing the severity of his addiction, he said: “I’ve got a serious problem.
“I’ve lost a million pounds and including that I’ve had to sell my house and lost my business.
“If I was in a betting shop I’d be on a bandit then I’d turn around and bet on a dog race or a horse race. I don’t even know anything about it. I’m just an idiot.
“When you’ve got an addiction you don’t realise what you had. You need to let go of what you had and look to the future.
“You’re never fixed in any addiction. It’s like being an alcoholic. You’re only a step away from a drink.
“I don’t think I realised how close I was to ending my life. I hit rock bottom.”
Between October last year and this March, Mark managed to avoid placing a bet with the help of his wife and support from Gamblers Anonymous.
In recent days, though, he claims to have received multiple messages from Betfred, despite taking steps to stop promotional offers that have previously pushed him “to the brink”.
Mark says he has signed up to GamStop – a service that blocks access to online gambling services – but Betfred say they have their own self-exclusion service which he is yet to sign up to.
He applied to Betfred via text to stop any future marketing but more emails continued to appear in his inbox.
He says the messages companies send out to entice people to gamble “need stopping”.
“Two days ago, I text ‘stop’ and yet I’ve had more messages. It’s getting out of hand. It’s pushed me to the brink,” he said.
“They need stopping. It’s ruining people’s lives. It’s destroying me.
“It’s not working. I’ve done everything I can. I’ve asked the Gambling Commission for advice but what can I do?”
The temptation to return to a bookmakers finally took hold on March 5 when Mark visited the Betfred shop in Grovehill Road, Beverley – a trip that left him facing a bill for almost £2,000 after he ripped televisions from the wall in anger.
“Last month I started getting regular emails [from various bookmakers] on a daily basis and letters to my address. They were offering me £50 deposits and all sorts,” he said.
“It’s quite intimidating to anyone with an addiction. I fell for it because they’re sending me all this stuff all the time.
“I ended up going in the betting shop on the bandit after I’d got a free bet on a text. I won £700 but I kept going. In the end, I won £850 but they wouldn’t pay me out. They said I was four seconds late.
“I lost my rag and ended up causing criminal damage. I damaged six teles on the wall.
“Next thing, two weeks ago I got a letter off the police and I had to attend Beverley Police Station about it.
“It was more of a relief after all the heartbreak they’ve caused me over the years. I could’ve lost everything for something so stupid. I thought my wife would’ve walked out that day but she didn’t for me.”
He admits his wife has always known about his gambling but says he only recently opened up about the extent of the issues he has faced after finding out he would have to pay for the damage to the shop.
The dad of two has heaped praise on his partner for the way she even attended support meetings with him to encourage him to kick the habit.
He says that although the road ahead will continue to be littered with challenges, he is eternally grateful for the support she has offered.
“I’ve been with my wife for 30 years and she’s always known I’ve gambled but I was really good at covering it up. It came to the point where I had to cry out for help and she was there for me. She had to take me to the GA meetings,” Mark said.
“I’ve put her through hell for 30 years and she’s been the best person in the world.
“I’m a bottler. I keep things bottled up. I give good advice but I don’t listen to it myself.”
Betfred has confirmed that Mark has been banned from entering all of their shops and have called for him to "self-exclude" from all bookies.
A statement released by a company spokesman said: "This individual has been barred from all of Betfred’s shops after an incident of serious criminal damage.
"We would urge him now to self-exclude from all betting shops and seek the necessary help by contacting the National Gambling Helpline or contacting begambleaware.co.uk .
"The individual has been removed from all our marketing lists, although we attempt to do this immediately there can be a slight delay to make sure it is fully actioned correctly.”
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