Many of you will know that my family suffered a heartbreaking tragedy when my father's gambling bombshell hit.
Almost exactly two years ago, my father told us he would not be going away on a work training course as planned, his visit away was actually to a court room in Wales. He was actually being sentenced for fraud; though he didn't fully admit this.
Cutting a long story short, he was jailed for two years for fraud. He stole £50,000 from his employers to fund a secret gambling addiction, leveraging his position as an accountant to cipher off the funds. This addiction had gone on some 30 years in secret. He'd spend around £30,000 a year aimlessly online and offline, gambling away until all the money was gone. He re-mortgaged our family home, racked up almost £500,000 of debt through whatever means possible and left us in turmoil.
I took over the finances, became the man of the house at 21 and kept the household running with my mum (who was a retired housewife.) It was such an emotional, devastating time. We didn't even know a 'gambling addiction' could even be a real thing. But it really is.
Industry funded figures suggest that there are 500,000 problem gamblers in Britain. We believe and know for a fact the figure is really much higher. I've been campaigning since this tragic story took hold for there to be better social responsibility in the gambling industry - namely a cap on how much you can spend on addictive machines both on and offline, tough restrictions on advertising and better technology to detect risky spend patterns.
We're eventually consulting with the Government and working with the NHS to put this on the health agenda - it needs to be a public health issue, there just isn't medical intervention freely out there, it's so tragic.
This week, new measures come into play which the bookies are claiming will really help in this problem gambling debate. Unfortunately, their proposition of self-exclusion schemes, which were already proven not to work, and their proposition of local area risk assessments (which to a degree already exist) do absolutely nothing to stop the damage being caused.
The bookies always win remember - these regulations aren't a winner for me.
Read our family's full story at: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-3246053/Father-s-secret-online-gambling-habit-cost-500-000-left-family-bankrupt.htmlSuggest a correction