Man who overcame gambling addiction speaks out to end the stigma

  • ITV News Meridian spoke to Matt Burgiss about his previous gambling addiction

A man who lost all his money, gambling 16-17 hours a day, says it is important to remove the stigma around the addiction.

Matt Burgiss, from Chatham, attempted to take his own life after his addiction got out of control.

He says he now realises he could and should have spoken to someone for help.

Mr Burgiss said: "When I wasn't working, all I was doing was gambling. It was the only purpose I had.

"I was spending lots of time and a fair amount of money, I was depositing thousands of pounds a day.

"At that point, the only way to stop gambling was to stop me - hence why I attempted [suicide].

"I look back at that now and I could have, at any point on that journey, when I could have and should have spoken to someone.

"People don't understand that it's an addition. People just said to me 'Just stop - just don't do that anymore' and it's not that easy. Had it been - obviously I would have stopped."

The charity Gamble Aware has released figures showing two out of three people experiencing gambling problems have never spoken about it. Credit: ITV News Meridian

Ian Semel CEO of Breakeven. "The addict never knows when to stop. They'll chase winnings and losses. They'll gamble 24 7 and for whatever reason it will be he'll not be able to afford what he's lost.

"Someone that gambles for fun can dip in and out a bit like people that can go to a pub - some people can, some people can't.

There are plans to introduce affordability checks but the British Horse Racing Industry has launched a petition urging the government to halt them saying it will have a "catastrophic" impact on horse racing.

In response to the plans, Mr Semel added: "It really affects people's mental health, gambling sadly has a really high rate of suicide ideation and people taking their own lives and we would need to stop it.

"Protecting the vulnerable is such an important thing to do and let's hope that these sorts of measures would protect those people."

If you or someone you know needs mental health support or advice:

Samaritans - 116 123

National Suicide Prevention Helpline UK - 0800 689 5652

Campaign Against Living Miserably (CALM) - 0800 58 58 58

If you or someone you know needs to contact gambling support helplines:

The National Gambling Helpline, 0808 8020 133 - Provides confidential information, advice and support, for free, to anyone affected by gambling harms in England, Scotland and Wales.

NHS website - Help for problems with gambling, addiction symptoms and treatment clinics.

Gamble Aware - Online quiz to provide people with tailored support.

GamCare - GamCare is part of the National Gambling Treatment Service and provides a live chat service.

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