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‘My son was shaking, trying not to go online’: how the gambling industry got its claws into children

As the NHS opens its first clinic for child addicts, families are counting the cost of Britain’s high-stakes betting problem In Jack Ritchie’s first term of sixth form, when he was 17, he started to spend his lunch breaks at the bookies down the road from his school in Sheffield, staking his dinner money at the fixed-odds betting terminals. It became a regular thing. No one ever asked for any proof of age. Early on, Jack had a big win. It was too much money to fit in his pocket; he had to ask the bookies to hold it for him until he could pick it up after school. “He came home with £1,000 in cash,” his mother, Liz, tells me, blinking in astonishment. Jack's distress came from the hold gambling had over his life and the feeling he could never escape it Nobody saw it as a problem. There were no warning bells. It felt so normalised. It's a bit of fun, as the adverts say He lost in the order of £3,000. It’s not about the money. I think, in the end, it’s embarrassment and shame Continue reading...

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