Following publication of a Gambling Commission study yesterday, Julian Worricker (Radio 2) and Victoria Derbyshire (Five Live) both wanted to know if problem-free regular gambling is possible. Derbyshire found a jolly-sounding soul who plays online poker for a living, but insists he doesn't have a problem. "It's the thing I love most in life," he chirruped. "Apart from my cat."
Worricker featured a professional gambler with a six-figure salary ("and that's tax-free, Julian") and a working day that many would envy: "Watching sport, drinking Guinness, gambling and funding a nice lifestyle." It didn't take long, though, for the less attractive reality to nudge into view. One woman called in to say that both her husband and son are addicts. "My husband has been a compulsive gambler for 28 or 30 years," she said. "Both of them are living off my earnings." Remarkably phlegmatic in the circumstances, she estimated that their habits cost the family "well over £100,000 a year". As you reeled from this admission, another listener emailed with an even more dramatic tale of woe. "I got so badly into debt [through gambling]," he admitted, "I attempted armed robbery to clear my debts."