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'I lost £15,000 in one afternoon' - Former gambler living in shed due to fixed-odds betting addiction

PUBLISHED: 14:29 31 October 2017 | UPDATED: 16:41 31 October 2017

David Armstrong has lost lots of money through gambling and now lives in a friends shed.
Byline: Sonya Duncan
Copyright: Archant 2017

David Armstrong has lost lots of money through gambling and now lives in a friends shed. Byline: Sonya Duncan Copyright: Archant 2017

Archant 2017

A former gambling addict lost £15,000 in one afternoon on fixed-odds betting machines in Norwich.

David Armstrong, 70, said his addiction to the high-speed electronic casino games has cost him his home, his job and almost his life.

The former garage owner, who claims to have lost £350,000 in ten years, now lives in a garden shed near Anglia Square.

He has today welcomed a government review to limit the maximum stake on the betting terminals.

MORE: Former City striker Kyle Lafferty opens up about his gambling addiction

But he said for many people, including himself, it has come too late.

Mr Armstrong said he had never gambled until 10 years ago when he was tempted into a betting shop in Anglia Square.

He won £50 on a fixed-odds machine while his partner was shopping.

“I started going in once or twice a week,” he said. “And then it just went manic.

“Before long I was borrowing money against my business and my home.”

He said he sought help after gambling away £15,000 in one afternoon in 2010 by betting £100 per spin.

Despite banning himself from every betting shop in East Anglia, it was not enough.

In 2014 - having lost everything he owned - he borrowed £50 and took a bus trip to the one gambling shop he still had access to in Colchester.

Hours later, he attempted to end his life by jumping off a bridge into a river.

“I wanted to be gone,” Mr Armstrong said. “I had lost my business, my life savings, and my family home because of this addiction.”

Fortunately, two people who were fishing nearby plucked him out of the water.

At present, people can bet up to £100 every 20 seconds on fixed-odds terminals, which are found in high street betting shops.

But a 12-week government consultation could limit the maximum stake per spin to between £2 and £50.

Mr Armstrong, who has not placed a bet in 12 weeks, said the proposals did not go far enough.

“The government has known for a long time about the devastating impact these machines have,” he said. “But they have dragged their feet because of the taxes involved.

“It is not enough to reduce it to £50 per spin when you have a proliferation of these machines on the high street.”

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