Gambling addict from Sheffield who lost over £500,000 says more support is needed to save lives

David Bradford and his son Adam, with whom he has campaigned for tighter gambling regulations
David Bradford and his son Adam, with whom he has campaigned for tighter gambling regulations
0
Have your say

A Sheffield man whose gambling habit landed him in prison says more support is needed to prevent fellow addicts taking their own lives.

David Bradford was jailed after stealing from his employers, having amassed debts of more than £500,000 feeding his addiction.

The 61-year-old, of Waterthorpe, has welcomed the Government's decision to slash the maximum stake on fixed-odds betting terminals (FOBT) from £100 to £2, but he says more must be done to help problem gamblers.

READ MORE: Sheffield family shattered by secret gambling addiction delighted at clampdown on 'crack cocaine' of betting
While numerous support groups exist for drug and alcohol addicts, he says there is just one NHS clinic in the whole of England for gambling addicts despite suicide rates being higher among that group.

"The one thing that's missing is someone to catch people when they become addicted, and to support them and their family," said the former finance director, who now works as a courier.

"There are lots of NHS clinics for drug addicts and alcoholics but there's just one for gambling addicts, which is in London. You would have thought there would be a dozen or so covering different areas and helping people turn their lives around.

READ MORE: Sheffield cutlery keeps place at parliamentary table after battle
"More people die of suicide through gambling than through drug or alcohol addiction.

"If my family had disowned me, which would have been quite understandable, I dread to think where I would have ended up."

Mr Bradford began gambling as a teenager on horse racing and the pools, and his problem gradually grew, really spiralling out of control when he began playing fixed-odds machines before moving to online betting.

READ MORE: Outrage from Sheffield customers as Wetherspoon axes popular dishes from menu
He described slashing the maximum stake on FOBTs as a 'step in the right direction', which he claimed would give many gamblers a 'better future'.

But he fears it could encourage gamblers to move online, where there is less personal interaction and it is harder to spot problems developing.

To reduce this risk, he wants the Government to go further by requiring online bookmakers to monitor for patterns which could indicate a problem, introduce affordability checks and ban the use of credit cards.