Jason Haddigan is a reformed gambler and the author of How and Why I Conned the Bookies: Lessons from a Loser for Gamblers the World Over. His addiction led to him scamming bookmakers across England and Scotland. He gambled in Las Vegas and for a time Mexico, winning and losing sometimes breath-taking amounts.
But he lost it all and ended up in prison, banned from most betting shops nationwide. He now advises politicians, professionals and reformers as well as encouraging youngsters to steer clear of temptation. He is currently involved in the campaign to restrict the scope of fixed odds betting terminals (FOBTs).
Don’t Take the Road I Did! By Jason Haddigan
After 18 months of emotional stress, writing my book, getting it published, etc, I finally know what it’s like to have ‘peace of mind’. Twenty tons of concrete have been lifted from each shoulder, my mind is clear, and my day-to-day tasks have become so easy to manage. I’m still gamble-free, and I’m a hundred per cent sure that will always be the case. I am never ever going back to prison again.
Two years ago, I was sitting at a roulette table in Las Vegas, watching a ball spin around a wheel, and probably losing. Zoom forward to the present and I have just texted leading politicians who are trying to change the law to protect on-line gamblers and set a limit on the stakes for fixed odds betting terminals (FOBTs). And 48 hours before that, I was in London for the same reason; and before that a Member of Parliament travelled on a train for five hours to my home town to meet me. We met at my local coffee shop and chatted for hours.
A month later, someone else important drove down to see me and we hit it off straight away. I told him my entire life story during our long meeting. He told me that he too once had a major gambling addiction, got himself into £20k ($30k) of debt, was hooked on FOBTs and thought about taking his own life many times. That’s the reason we clicked. The gambling addiction can get hold of anyone.
Sometimes I have to pinch myself, to see if this is all a dream. I’m now actually campaigning, I’m travelling to London and having lunch in Japanese restaurants, having my picture taken with well-known people and hoping for a film deal.
I believe in a lot of sayings, but there is one that I really do find false, and that’s ‘A leopard can’t change his spots’. Because I have. All the conning, cheating, lying, and the evil gambling has left my soul. I am a changed man, and I’m actually starting to like myself. The person I was for many, many years wasn’t nice at all. I was a gambler and a con man and I survived by deceit. But as I say, I’ve been reborn, I’m a changed man.
I will continue to campaign until these vile, nasty, evil machines and over-blown and constantly misleading advertising for gambling sites gets reduced. And after that I will then campaign about all the other things, the bright lights and the false promise, that entice the vulnerable to gamble. In between campaigning, I will also start on my next book. I’ve already got the title of it in my head, and I’m sure Bryan (my delightful publisher) will as ever want me to tone it down just a little!
Leaving on a serious note, I am so happy to be involved with these campaigns. It is overwhelming the support I am getting. Deep down, I’ve always been a bit of an emotional chap, and the messages I receive (daily) from my Twitter fans and others, for example ‘Jason, thank you so much, if it wasn’t for you, I’d still be gambling’ do get me a bit tear-jerky. And then there’s the amazing number of five-star reviews I have had on Amazon since my book came out which seem to make it all worthwhile. Everyone tells me they can’t put it down.
Just remember, if your gambling addiction is getting out of control, don’t keep it to yourself, tell someone, get help. Do not take the road I did! Oh, and do read my book ……