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How gambling addiction drove Cambridge football legend John Taylor to brink of suicide

Cambridge United legend John Taylor has spoken out about his gambling addiction. Credit: ITV News Anglia

A Cambridge United football legend has spoken out over the gambling addiction which drove him to the brink of suicide.

Over three decades, John Taylor made more than 500 appearances as a professional for clubs including Cambridge, Northampton and Luton.

But while he was known for his strength on the pitch, off it he was struggling to cope with an addiction to gambling, which cost him his wages, his relationships and, almost, his life.

"It was only when the financial strain took me to the top of the Orwell Bridge, that I realised that the time had come. Thankfully that was one step too far to jump off the bridge but it takes you to places you just don't believe."

– John Taylor
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With support from Gamblers Anonymous, John has not had a bet for nearly seven years.

He is now a manager at a storage firm in Ipswich.

More than 400 thousand people in Great Britain are thought to have a gambling problem - with men aged 25 to 34 most at risk.

The Gambling Commission's latest report found almost half of all adults (46%) had gambled in the four weeks before they were surveyed.

Almost a fifth (18%) had bet online in that time - and 44% of them were using their mobiles.

It means big business - and not just for the bookmakers.

Springing up across social media are hundreds of "tipsters" - some of them charging for what they call "expert selections" or a "VIP service".

Adam Hills, from Hertfordshire, runs a horse-racing blog called The Handicap Breaker.

He chooses not to charge for his tips but he says other tipsters are quite within their rights to do so.

"There are some people that put in a hell of a lot of time and are very successful and charge for their services," he said.

"I think that's fair play - but I think the key thing with that is transparency."

Mr Hills says many tipsters also advertise bookmakers - and receive a fee for doing so.

"That's where the lines of responsibility become a little bit blurred.," he said.

"That tipster is going to take a fee for passing your custom onto the bookmaker - and there's a bit where you question... are you then fussed about whether that horse wins or not because you've got something back already?"

For help and advice on gambling addiction