Mark Potter, 37, a former professional rugby player, says his gambling addiction started with a visit to a so-called high-street bookmaker — the legal shops that appear on Britain’s equivalent of Main Street.
“The straw that broke the camel’s back was that I sold my wife’s engagement ring and sold my kids’ stuff to gamble with,” Potter told NBC News.
Potter says that “very low point” was preceded by “stealing money, and getting arrested for committing fraud.” He also lost his job.
“I carried on betting, that didn’t make me want to stop,” said Potter, who lives in the northwest of England and now works for a company that educates athletes about the risk of gambling. “If you’re a problem gambler, you’ll always find a way to place a bet.”
Those issues have been exacerbated by another modern trend in the industry. Despite high-street bookies being a traditional hub for sports betting since the 1960s, most are now dominated by highly addictive fixed-odds betting terminals.
A type of electronic slot machine, situs judi online the betting terminals are accused of targeting some of the most vulnerable people in British society and contributing to the growing number of problem gamblers.
Customers are currently able to bet up to £100 $133 every 20 seconds playing virtual games of roulette or bingo on fixed-odds betting terminals. The U.K. government last month announced that the maximum stake would be reduced from £100 to £2 in 2019. Peter NichollsReuters file
Marriott, the council member who represents the left-leaning Labour party, also expressed concerns about how betting has evolved in recent years.
“My grandad use to go to the betting shops to place a bet on the horses, but now it’s very different,” Marriott said. “That’s very different to going to a betting shop, and just standing there and pressing a button … and then winning or losing money in massive amounts. It’s almost not the same thing.”
BLINK AND YOU’LL MISS THE CHANCE TO BET
Cellphones have also changed Britain’s sports betting industry.
Remote gambling using apps or websites as opposed to high-street shops is now a £4.7 billion $6.3 billion a year industry. It accounts for 34 percent of the entire U.K. betting market, a proportion that is growing all the time.
Nine of the 20 soccer teams in the English Premier League have jerseys sponsored by online betting firms from around the world; East Ham’s soccer team, West Ham United, is one of them. Most teams also have official betting partners.