A gambling addict from Sheffield whose habit landed him behind bars has written to gambling chiefs demanding action to prevent more families from being 'destroyed'.
David Bradford, from Waterthorpe, racked up more than £500,000 in debts and was jailed for two years after stealing over £50,000 from his employer.
The 61-year-old and his son Adam have issued an emotional plea to industry bosses to better promote responsible gambling and safeguard others from addiction and its 'ruinous' impact.
In an open letter, written ahead of a government announcement expected this week about the outcome of a review into gambling legislation, they say there are almost half a million gambling addicts in the UK and many more people who are unaware of their addiction.
"This is half a million communities wrecked, families destroyed and lives ruined," the letter states.
"There is a lot of work to do to clean up the act in the gambling industry. My father hid his addiction for years and got himself into a financial hole because of it, eventually stealing money and bankrupting our family, jeopardising our home and serving a prison sentence.
"We are left with a bleak future because of an addiction which he had no support for and which none of your companies ever spotted.
"No family wants to lose their father to prison and nobody wants to lose anybody to gambling. This week do not take the Government’s legislation lightly. There is a lot more to be done and you can lead the way."
David hid his habit from his family for three decades, taking out 21 credit cards and loans and secretly remortgaging their home.
After stealing from his employer, the financial controller admitted fraud and dishonestly obtaining money, and he was sentenced in 2014 to two years imprisonment, of which he served eight.
Even while behind bars, Adam says his father continued to be 'bombarded' by emails and texts from gambling firms.
The Department for Culture, Media and Sport's review is expected to focus on slot machines known as fixed-odds betting terminals, on which campaigners have called for the maximum stake to be reduced from £100 to £2.
But Adam, an award-winning entrepreneur, aged 25, hopes it will go further.
He wants a blanket ban on advertising, including online and at sporting events, and more measures to protect online gamblers, such as prohibiting the use of credit cards and introducing new software to identify and support customers who may be at risk.
"We believe the Government needs to move more quickly when it comes to updating the regulations," he said.
"We wrote the letter to remind the industry of the real people behind the figures and the need to take a common sense approach to protecting not just gambling addicts but their families and communities which are affected by their actions."
A spokesman for the Association of British Bookmakers warned that cutting the maximum stake on machines in betting shops could do more harm than good.
"Indeed, if problem gamblers move away from betting shops, where they can talk to staff and get help, they risk moving into less secure, less regulated environments," he said.
He added: "The Government should be making a decision on FOBT stakes based on evidence. Not doing so risks pushing problem gamblers into potentially more dangerous areas of gambling – something neither the ABB nor Adam and David would want."