A GAMBLING addict has revealed how he squanders hundreds of pounds in benefits on virtual roulette machines.
Nearly every penny of Michael Waring’s benefits – a total of £845 a month – is lost at betting shops.
The 28-year-old said: “I’m in a constant cycle of spending my money and then twiddling my thumbs waiting for my next giro.”
Unshaven, gaunt and having worn the same clothes for a week, the addict’s life has almost been destroyed since he first gambled 12 years ago.
He said it was the casino game machines, or ‘fixed-odds betting terminals’ that tipped him over the edge.
Last year along, East Lancashire punters staked more than £270million on the machines – which have a maximum bet of £100.
“When the machines came out I didn’t even know what roulette was,” he said.
After three months playing them I was hooked,” he said. “I took my wages into the bookies. I was convinced I could win and put all my money into a machine.
“I lost. When I left, the fresh air hit me and my guts were wrenching.
“The next week I went in again.”
It wasn’t long before the healthy, gym-going window fitter lost everything – including his ‘trophy girlfriend’.
He left his job, stopped taking care of himself, became depressed and stole food when he was spent up.
He even sold his motocross bike, spending the proceeds at a casino the same night.
In an attempt to battle his demons, Mr Waring, moved from Blackburn to Morecambe to be closer to his mother.
“One morning last year I managed to abstain and decided to spend the day in Windermere, rent a boat and relax,” he said. “But I started to get the urge to gamble.”
After finding a bookmaker, he spent £130. “I texted my mum and said I wanted to kill myself and die,” he said.
Last Tuesday Mr Waring snapped and attacked a casino machine during a spree on which he again lost all his money after several trips to a cash machine.
“I punched the machine several times, threw it onto the floor and left,” he said.
Mr Waring confessed at a police station, but walked free after learning it hadn’t been reported.
“I have no dignity or pride left,” he said. “Those machines are the crack cocaine of gambling.”
Mr Waring surrendered his casino membership card to stop him gambling, but they aren’t used at bookmakers. “I really want to see them used,” he added.
A £500,000, 18-month-long study into gambling machines was launched by the Responsible Gambling Trust last month. The government will review the results.