TV and Radio

Radio review: Chilling insight into world of online gambling addiction

Online gambling can lead to a dead weight of debt

My Name is... Katie, BBC Radio 4

KATIE isn't her name. She couldn't give that. She's an accountant - it doesn't go with a gambling addiction.

That's "kind of the opposite of managing money", she told producer Lydia Thomas in what was a riveting personal story.

Katie was working in the City of London on £70,000 a year when the stress got to her and she started using cocaine to cope and stay awake.

She got signed off work and began online gambling after watching all the ads.

She started off with 10p bets... you do win early on.

Then it became a compulsion. She tried to break it, she wrote notes to herself: "Never gamble again."

But the compulsion stayed. She would be with her boyfriend and take her phone to the toilet so she could gamble.

Then, in one single night, she lost £50,000.

In total she has left herself with a crippling debt of £125,000 spread across two gambling firms and all on credit cards.

She had an excellent credit rating and nine credit cards. She maxed them all out.

Why her? She never dreamed she would end up an addict. But who does?

It was chilling.

We heard about how the gambling companies make you feel important, make you a VIP - one offered her a special £800 bonus free to come and gamble some more.

She believes these big gambling firms should be held more to account.

Yes, one firm did pay £34,000 towards her rehabilitation, but without accepting responsibility.

Katie wants politicians to listen and she wants gambling laws tightened.

Lydia Thomas took us with on a journey to Sweden, headquarters of one firm, and to Westminster to get politicians to listen.

By the end of her story, Katie had come part of the way to being heard - but she, like thousands of others, is still walking around with the dead weight of debt on her shoulders.

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