A BODELWYDDAN father-of-five has warned of the dangers of gambling after spending £60,000 in six months on National Lottery scratchcards.
Mark Thomas, aged 50, of Ffordd Terfyn, said his addiction, which he said has taken over his life, has seen him lose his life savings
He said: “This problem has taken all of my savings in a six month period.
“It is an addiction that has escalated quickly and it is something I have not yet got under control, although I am looking to get help as soon as I can.”
Mr Thomas, who is currently on disability living allowance and suffers from Addisons disease, has funded his gambling through money he had saved for later life as well as previous winnings.
He said winning £34,000 from online roulette led to the problem.
“This problem has taken over my life and I know now that it is something I need to sort out," said Mr Thomas.
“It can be easy to fall into the trap of excessive gambling, but if I can help someone else avoid this problem by warning people of my situation then at least some good can come out of something that has affected me so deeply.”
The former landlord also made headlines in September 2012 when he entered a burning building to save his then lodger, Jeremy Holson after an unattended chip pan caught fire.
Mr Thomas said friends and family have only recently discovered the extent of his problem and have been pleading with him to get help.
He added: “I would say to anyone that thinks they have a problem to get help before things spiral out of control.
“Just the other day I spent £500 on scratchcards, so I know better than most how important it is to tell people that you have a problem, which is the first step on the road to recovery.”
Recent statistics from the British Gambling Commission show that 73 per cent of people throughout the UK gamble at least once a year, with 25 per cent of the population buying scratchcards at least once a week.
In addition, the 2013 report stated that around seven per cent of adults are at risk from experiencing problems with their gambling, with 3.5 million cases reported last year, which is 0.7 per cent of the country’s population.
Marc Etches, chief executive of the Responsible Gambling Trust said: “It’s important to recognise when legitimate enjoyment of gambling is becoming a problem.
“Harm from problem gambling can spread far beyond the individual gambler. Families, friends and even complete strangers can also suffer if gamblers get in debt.
“We know of cases where people lose their jobs, steal, or even go to prison as a consequence of problem gambling.”
Anyone who feels they have a problem with gambling and requires help contact the National Gambling Helpline on 0808 8020 133 or visit gambleaware.co.uk.