The NHS has opened its first clinic for young people addicted to gaming and gambling, a year after a Gambling Commission report found that 55,000 11-to-16-year-olds in the UK were problem gamblers. For some the path to gambling begins with playing online games, as the BBC’s Becky Milligan heard from the father of one young man now getting help for his addiction.
“Not in a million years, not in a million years did I think that gaming could lead to compulsive gambling.”
Steve is sitting on a bench in a churchyard. He’s agreed to talk to me about his son’s gambling addiction. He’s nervous, he hasn’t done an interview before and I can feel his anxiety.
His son, now in his early 20s, is in recovery and doing well, “but we take one day at a time” he says.
“We’ve had a terrible three years. We wouldn’t want anyone to go through what we have gone through. When we first discovered our son had the compulsive gambling disorder we didn’t know what to do.”
Steve tells me how one night his son lost his weekly wage in a matter of minutes. Distraught, he appealed to his parents for help. They did what many other parents would do: They paid off his debt, hoping that would be end of it. But it wasn’t.
I tell Steve that I’ve spoken to other parents whose children have developed gambling disorders, and they also paid off the debts at first, not realising the extent of their children’s addiction.
“We thought this was just a little glitch, this is what kids do,” one father told me. And that’s what Steve thought at first 온라인카지노
He and his wife had known for some time that their son enjoyed having the odd bet. But lots of their friends enjoyed a flutter and it didn’t seem to be out of the ordinary.
A year later, though, Steve was shocked to find out his son was gambling with other people’s money, and losing large amounts.
“It was online roulette. That was his downfall,” he tells me.
Now Steve realised it was a very serious problem. He and his wife didn’t know what to do. They began to isolate themselves, avoid going out or seeing friends. They were worried what people would say.
“We were pretty helpless. We didn’t know which way to turn. We spent months finding the answers and doing our own research,” Steve says.
Last year, he and his wife went to a GamAnon meeting for families. Earlier this year his son also began to get help.