Chasing the money bug
A 63-year-old man from the UK has spoken about the impact his gambling addiction had on his family after he racked up debts of £500,000 ($627,400).
Unknown to his family, David Bradford was betting and losing money on gambling sites and slot machines, reports the Metro.
His debts eventually amounted to £500,000. In a bid to pay the money off without his family’s knowledge, he stole £50,000 ($62,700) from the business where he worked as a financial manager.
He was imprisoned for two years for admitting to the theft but was released eight months into his sentence. It was only through Bradford’s solicitor that his family became aware of the extent of his addiction, and his 26-year-old son was left to pick up the pieces.
Father and son exchange
During Bradford’s time in prison, he and his son, Adam Bradford, started writing a series of letters to each other to try and discover why things had spiraled out of control.
On September 5, 2014, five months after Bradford was sent to jail, Adam wrote to him and said:
Things really are devastating here. I am still trying to untangle your finances. You said that your past is buried in your mind but, to be honest, it is us who are unlocking all the secrets. Mum is distraught. It’s only me wrestling with your debt collectors. I don’t know how you managed to hide all this. Everything is chaos.”
Bradford wrote back declaring that he realized he had a problem, but didn’t want to face up to it as he wasn’t “brave enough”. In an extract from one of his letters to Adam, Bradford penned that he was “stung by the power of money” and that the “money bug was a disease idolized by all”. He added:
For years and years, I was swallowed down this tunnel to a point where I could only borrow money to finance the repayments of earlier borrowing, a self-perpetuating, self-defeating, spiraling debt.”
Along his journey of deceit, he wrote, he took to gambling, initially as a way to try repaying the mountain of debt he had built up. However, gambling turned into a form of escape from his money problems.
Coming to terms with his gambling addiction, Bradford said that if anyone saw themselves in the words he had written, they should seek help before it is too late.
Setting up a charity
Since being released from prison, David and Adam have started to rebuild their relationship. They have also started a charity, the Safer Online Gambling Group (SOGG), with the aim of helping to raise awareness about the dangers of online gambling.
They are hoping to offer online treatment by 2020 and Ladbrokes has agreed to run it on its website. According to Adam, gambling companies are no longer seen as the bad guys. Instead, it’s in the interest of everyone to eradicate gambling addiction; however, to do so is a slow and steady process.