This morning, former online gambling addict David Bradford, 62, and his son the entrepreneur and social activist Adam Bradford, 26, have turned their past five tireless years of campaign work into a non-profit.
The Safer Online Gambling Group aims to raise awareness of online gambling addiction, bring about support for gambling addicts on the NHS and work with operators and the government to tighten up gambling policy to protect vulnerable players.
Last week, the pair exposed weaknesses in the gambling industry’s GAMSTOP self-exclusion scheme which is meant to ensure addicted players cannot gamble again if they exclude themselves. Since their investigation the Gambling Commission has promised to tighten up the scheme’s loopholes.
David hid his 30-year gambling addiction from the family, ending up in jail after stealing £50,000 from his employers. He kept his addiction and the court case secret from his family, with them only finding out about their father’s problems through a report on the front page of the local newspaper. David had racked up over £500,000 of debt through payday loans, credit cards, bank loans and even remortgaging the family home. He was helplessly addicted to gambling and only now can reflect on his issues properly. The pair have campaigned nationally towards politicians, 10 Downing Street and industry operators to bring about change. They have the support of the NHS, the Conservative Party and Labour deputy leader Tom Watson MP.
Recent achievements include the successful campaign to bring the Fixed Odds Betting Terminals stake down to £2 from £100 after widespread criticism of the machines and a roll out of NHS problem gambling clinics on the NHS in this year’s NHS Long Term Plan.
Over 430,000 people are addicted to gambling in the UK according to the Gambling Commission and a further 2 million people are at risk. 55,000 under 16s have gambling related problems according to charity GambleAware and the rate of advertising for gambling has increased by 600% since the Gambling Act 2005 deregulated many parts of the gambling industry. Adam and David would like to see advertising reduced, robust ID and affordability checks placed on online accounts and national campaigns run to highlight gambling addiction, as well as the further rollout of national NHS gambling addiction provision.
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