John Hartson

There can only be one form of gambling and that is safer gambling

We all want to have fun and enjoy ourselves. Whether that’s going to the pub for a pint, eating more food than we should, or having a flutter on a game, we all like to enjoy ourselves. But there is a point at which fun can become harmful for some people.

Its been 469 weeks since I last had a bet.

I never thought I’d be saying that, but who does? Gambling addiction happens to other people, not me, not you. I’ll be fine, it’s a run of bad luck, it’ll pass.

It’s only when you take a step back and speak to others in similar positions you realise that it’s not just you that has had a problem.

This is Safer Gambling Week and it always reminds me of the journey I have been on. Yes it is only seven days, but this might be the seven days which makes others who are at risk or have a problem, sit up and take stock, realise they might have an issue and get help.

To me there can only be one form of gambling and that’s safer gambling. If you’re waking up thinking about a bet, if you’re chasing losses, using money you don’t have, ruining your relationships, you’re not gambling, you have a problem.

Use this week to change your life. It can be done.

There are many ways to do this. Gambling companies now have incredible technology – used as a safety net – to watch over customers who might be spending or playing too much.

They have new tools – such as limit setting for deposits or time – that customers can use to control their spending. These weren’t an option for me at the time, and it may have helped me from getting into the situation I found myself in. So, if you’re thinking about gambling, I urge you this week, right now, to use one of the following tools:

  • Deposit limits – Set in stone what you can play with and once it’s gone, it’s gone. This way there’s no wiggle room.
  • Time outs – When you want to take a break from betting and gaming for a period of time. These breaks can go from a day, one week, one month or any other period up to six weeks.
  • Curfew – Gives you the option to block yourself from depositing for set periods of time – choosing either specific days or dates, and hours too.

My big fear is that gamblers don’t care about who the bookie is, and that’s led to a rise in the unlicensed and dangerous black market – place where there are no protections and no support. We have to make sure that people know and trust who they are betting with. Make sure you know before placing a bet.

And that’s what Safer Gambling Week is all about – to raise awareness of the signs of harm and make sure that players are protected from reaching the point of addiction like I did. So use the tools – set a limit, take a break.

Let’s make the only gambling safe gambling and make this the week to reflect on our relationship with gambling.

Gambling is a long-established British pastime that I know millions enjoy and enjoy safely. I don’t want anyone to ruin your fun, but this week should be our chance to help those who do need a little assistance. If you are one of those people. This could be the week that changes your life.

  • To talk to a someone about your relationship with gambling, call the national helpline on 0808 8020 133. Its free and fully confidential.

John Hartson is GVC’s Responsible Gambling Ambassador

Betting & Gaming Council logo

Hello, sign up to our newsletter to receive the latest betting and gaming news.

We will protect your personal information.
Read our privacy policy