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Ipswich: Gambling took over my life – former addict tells of four-year battle with casino machines

PUBLISHED: 15:55 12 February 2013 | UPDATED: 15:55 12 February 2013

Former addict Matt shared his story with The Star.  Picture posed by model

Former addict Matt shared his story with The Star. Picture posed by model

EVERYDAY for four years Matt’s life was consumed by an urge to bet.

At the age of 16 he went into a bookies to place a bet on a football match.

But while there he played a casino game on a Fixed Odds Betting Terminal (FOBT).

FOBT machines are found in most high street bookmakers and allow bets of up to £100 every 20 seconds.

They include games such as roulette, bingo and simulated horse racing. The Gambling Act 2005 restricts each shop to having a maximum of four terminals.

“I wasn’t id’d, I was just allowed to try out the machines,” the now 23-year-old told The Star.

“I played for the first time and won a bit of money.

“Then I played again.

“I played everyday for the next four years.”

Matt said the urge to play the machines took over his life, leading him to lose £16,000.

“The need to gamble consumed me, it took over all aspects of my life.

“All I could think was when my next bet would be, you don’t make plans for the future.

“You just think about betting and for me, getting on the machines.

“I hit rock bottom when I was about 20, I had no money and no access to any money. I was halfway through university and had nothing.

“It is the speed and stakes involved that affected me.

“Betting on football is different, you have 90 minutes to consider your bet.

“With just 20 seconds, I found I got sucked in.”

Matt urged anyone in a similar situation to seek help before it is too late.

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