As sports betting becomes ‘socially acceptable’ within British culture, problem gambling has risen in the UK.

What is it?

Founder of the Gamban app, Matt Zarb-Cousin joins the Football and Feelings Podcast to discuss his experiences of problem gambling and what the former spokesperson for Jeremy Corbyn is doing now to help fellow bettors.

Who is it?

Liam Masters, Podcast Producer and Host of Football and Feelings

Matt Zarb-Cousin, Director of Clean Up Gambling/Coalition Against Gambling Ads

What is being said?

Zarb-Cousin, who represented Southend United’s youth team, explained how his addiction came about and why gambling ‘dominated’ his life: “Football definitely hooked me in. My first bet was on an Arsenal match against Manchester United in 2006 – I think it was late January or maybe early February at Highbury. It finished 0-0 and I bet on Arsenal to win 1-0 and obviously didn’t win that but while I was waiting for my friends, I put my money in the machine, in the fixed-odds betting terminal, and that kind of set it off. That was what set off the chain reaction.

“That summer, there was the World Cup in Germany and that was the first international tournament where I was putting bets on and I was sitting in the bookies a lot. I didn’t really have a problem with football betting but that wasn’t where the problem was. I would go in and think, ‘shall I put £5 on a match?’ or ‘shall I put £1 on an accumulator?’ I’d think very carefully about the bets I was putting on but with the machines it was like £10 a spin. I had no concept of money when it was in the machine and that was what drove the addiction. I lost control every time I started gambling on those machines.”

From mental health to financial security, he explained some of the damaging effects of problem gambling: “It’s not the fact that I’d lost a sum of money – by that point I’d lost about £20,000 in total. When you’re addicted to something, you’re doing the thing you’re addicted to, to escape all the problems it’s caused. It’s your self-medication almost. I didn’t have any mental health problems before I started gambling.

“But when you can’t gamble anymore because you’ve lost all your money and you’re then having to confront the reality of what your behaviour has led to and how it actually has impacted your life – and feeling like you have no agency or ability to control the situation – it’s all those factors mainly.”

Why should I watch it?

To hear the thoughts of an industry campaigner and recovering gambling addict on what more can be done for problem gamblers.

Where can I see more?

Source: Football and Feelings YouTube Channel

Gambling addictions become ‘self-medication’, says Zarb-Cousin