Gambling Addict Who Lost 70,000 Pounds Calls for More Support for Women
A woman created £70,000 of debt from online gambling. She is now calling for more support for women who are addicted to gambling.
Kelly Field reveals details about her addiction with the makers of Cleaning Up, which airs on ITV. Sheridan Smith, one of the main characters of the show, is an office cleaner who starts committing illegal acts to cover the debts she incurs from gambling. Ms. Field hopes that Cleaning Up will shed more light on how gambling addiction isn’t a problem that only affects men. Field says, “There aren’t as many women speaking out.” She further shares “Gambling is seen as bookies and men and dogs and horses. But there’s probably just as many women who are gambling addicts as men.”
Why Do Women Gamble?
Field says when makers of Cleaning Up contacted her; she wanted to share her reasons for online gambling. Fields used gaming as a way to escape from stress when she was off work because of a grievance.
The writer of Cleaning Up, Mark Marlow, says that Sam, Sheridan Smith’s character was brought to life when he interviewed women about gambling. He says the women gave him insight into how gambling addiction affects the addict’s friends and family as well. Marlow asserts, “I looked into the differences between why women gamble as opposed to why men gamble and I discovered women do it more as an escape.”
Ms. Field stated that she was happy to see Smith, a Bafta Award-winning actor, bringing light to the important issue of gambling addiction. Field shares, “She’s so popular and she creates such good characters that is will get the message across a lot further.”
The Thrill of Gambling Online
After only six months of being introduced to online slot machines and bingo, Ms. Field had already incurred £10,000 in debt. She states, “You’re in this online virtual reality so you’re not dealing with what you’re dealing with in reality. It feels like playing computer games when you’re a kid. You’ve got your high scores, your lives left. It just seems like digits, it’s not really money. That’s why people lose so much.”
Field admits she initially hid her addiction and chose to “smile and hide the credit card bill.” However, the pressure of meeting financial obligations and the lies finally became too much. She explains, “You isolate yourself so much for everybody. You get trapped in a cycle of playing to win, losing, then playing to win back whatever you’ve lost, and then losing more. You miss appointments, social events. It takes a part of you that you never get back. You are physically and mentally not the person that you were before.”
Field decided she could no longer keep her addiction a secret and confessed to her partner. She also went to see a doctor and sought counseling for gambling addiction. However, she says her counselor never showed up for her appointment. After this experience, she suffered from gambling addiction for several more years. This put her in even more debt. Field shares, “People don’t understand the struggle it takes to go to a medical professional and say you need help. I didn’t go back to counseling with the NHS. My partner was a nervous wreck. He didn’t know how to help me and I didn’t know how to get help.”
Field even got to the point where she was suicidal; when she got assistance from Stockport-based charity Beacon Counseling. She shares that it was difficult for her to get the information she needed for emotional and psychological support. She even saw online gambling advertisements that featured celebrities, which made it harder to stop. “It’s glamorising it and making it socially acceptable. If advertisers are going to do this, they should tell the whole story, including the dangers and where to get help.”
To overcome her addiction, Ms. Field has stopped using a smartphone. She no longer uses credit and debit cards and blocked gambling websites, so she can’t access them on her computer. A BBC investigation highlighted the flaws connected with industry schemes for gambling addicts, and Field says that credit card companies should do more to keep people from getting into insurmountable debt.
Field says, “If there’s suspect activity on your card they will stop transactions. So they know if you’re spending £500 a day over six months. Why can’t they block your card? The Gambling Commission is now considering the prohibition of betting online with credit cards.
Field says she’ll be paying off debts until 2021. She shares, “It’s a hard process. As much as it’s negative, it’s about taking the consequences of your actions. I spent the money; I should have to pay it back.”
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An energy industry consultant who spends a lot of time on North Sea oil rigs and conducting studies in and around the Arctic Circle. Sean started playing online casino games to compensate for long periods of boredom. In no time he turned from casual player to fan to fanatic and has since made it his mission to study the online casino universe from the players perspective. As a regular participant and contributor to Top Casino Picks, Sean sits in the Top Casino Picks advisory board and oversees our review team.
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