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How the campaign is going so far.....
After creating the petition to get betting shops out of our high streets and town centres, 4 months has now past since the start of the petition.
I often wonder if maybe I had been a little over-enthusiastic about it , maybe I had aimed a little too high to stop the social problems I had seen being created in our communities from the anti-social nature of betting shops filling up our high streets.
But maybe it needs that push from someone, what some people consider to be an extreme view may just help keep the topic on the public talking board.
But the message here is that gambling has always ruined lives and families, since before the gambling act when people were getting hooked on horse betting. The proliferation of betting shops and the introduction of fixed odds betting terminals hasn't been the creator of individual, family and community problems... it simply meant that the problem has been extremely magnified over the last ten years.
I'v learned a lot in the last four months. The most important fact being that the 'normalisation' of gambling is already here to some degree.
Take a look at our Facebook page comments , a lot of people consider my campaign to be nonsense with many people claiming that betting shops are a great contributor to the economy and that if we should ban betting shops then we should also ban cigarettes and alcohol.
Even when I explain that gambling advertising laws are a lot more relaxed than cigarette and alcohol advertising laws, they often argue in favour of the betting shops.
Not even when I mention that bar staff have a 'duty of care' to stop people being too drunk can I manage to swing them round. I'm shocked by how many people genuinely believe that betting shop staff are trained to intervene when they see a problem gambler. Again , all non-gamblers because they are unaware of what really happens in gambling environments.
When I'v taken to the streets and been out and about I get a very different response in general. People usually give great feedback and encourage the campaign and it's really easy to get people talking about the way gambling has affected their area. It's those people that spur me on and convince me to carry on doing what I believe is the right thing to do.
So on that level the perception of the british public currently seems divided , despite a channel 4 dispatches covering betting shops and a really well filmed panorama which highlighted a lot of facts that a lot of other media outlets have failed to highlight.
Maybe too if it wasn't for the emails from film producers then I would have quit the internet campaigning altogether as the constant negative comments about my campaign can often drag me down.
So far I'v done an interview for a SKY TV channel and two student documentaries which has been really encouraging to carry on because if it wasn't for the blog and possibly the networking, I wouldn't have received the request emails.
A few months ago near the start of the relaunch , I'd been successful in hounding Gamcare to sort out their Twitter page. A member of GRASP had pointed out that they had re-tweeted a 'racing post' competition tweet which is a serious flaw for the UK's leading problem gambling clinic.
So after phoning Gamcare and leaving them a few voice messages on their answer-phone ,I emailed them about how ironic it was they had re-tweeted a gambling promotion. I presume those complaints were reinforced by a few complaints from members of the GRASP group too.
Gamcare phoned back to say they apologized for the 'mistake' they had made and that the person that had been using twitter account had been taken down from that position.
When I'd checked to see if the tweet had been taken down I took a look at who they were 'following' on Twitter, which became a bit of a concern to me.
I always knew they had to see what was going on inside the gambling industry , but for problem gamblers that were counting on getting help from Gamcare, I thought it was a very contradicting message to have them following casino's, betting sites, pro-gambling forums and companies such as the racing post.
It was potentially leading problem gamblers back into the darkness of the pro-gambling world.
So after one or two more email exchanges between Neuroliberation campaign and Gamcare we received a big thank you from them after being told we had pointed out some vital flaws with their Twitter page, and had convinced them to create a new Twitter account for following gambling industry pages without it leading problem gamblers to visit those pages.
For me personally I took it as a success. Maybe it was only a small change but nevertheless was some form of action with a small positive change.
A big 'thank you' to Pete Jones for having me in on the radio to explain about my campaign, talk about the issue of betting shops and the national lottery and I played a few tunes of my own songs live-on-air. It was a really fun radio session.
For those unaware of why I am so passionate to change the way betting shops operate in the UK , it originally all began from experience my own gambling addiction after playing on electronic roulette, winning £500 then developing a chronic addiction to it. I was angry at seeing the constant streams of people going onto fixed odds betting terminals, putting hundreds of pounds in whilst losing all control and common sense whilst betting shop staff simply watched without ever intervening. How could this be legal I thought??
But it was after an episode of anxiety when I decided to research the effects of gambling on the brain and the manipulation of dopamine that I decided to campaign.
Realising that gambling was getting more and more popular in the UK, and knowing that it was leading millions of people into family devastation and cognitive impairment I just couldn't see why betting shops weren't being challenged by the general public.
I'v always liked to portray the campaign as being somewhat professional , but with all the money (except a £26 donation from GRASP group) coming from my own pockets, after losing my kitchen job things are getting a bit difficult to manage. Even when I was working I had given up a lot so I could run the campaign , but now things seem to be twice as hard.
(Please click here to make a small donation , All donations are accounted for and from time to time we will publish everything our money has been spent on).
Our demonstration on 24th November was far from a success as the weather just wasn't cut out for us on the day, myself and another neuroliberation campaign member still went ahead despite no breaks of dryness in the day. (see here for more info)
We'v got a lot of plans for the Neuroliberation campaign , as the weather isn't great we will be taking an indoors approach , if you know anyone that could hire us a hall for free or a small charge then please get in touch as we are looking for venues in all areas of the UK , but specifically London, Brighton and surrounding areas are a really great place for us to start.
Hopefully we'l be able to educate people about how gambling is affecting communities, families and individuals mental health in depth , how betting shops and online gambling are creating crime, poverty and depression.
We would love to continue working with students so if you are a student that would like to collaborate with us then please do get in touch. (email here)
We'v put our gambling-crime researching on hold for the moment as we'v just been getting ready for the demo, but our current records of gambling-addict related crime since 2005 currently stands at over 200 cases of convicted gambling addicts that were charged for all kinds of frauds, thefts, robberies and murders. The total figure stolen from victims in those 200 stories alone stands at around £60,000,000 . But that's just convictions!!
We are also about to start researching gambling-related suicide , with the most familiar story to us being of Manchester primary school headteacher John Reilly hanging himself after losing his home to an online poker addiction. (see here)
There's a lot more to come from the Neuroliberation campaign. Being so passionate about this issue despite the negative feedback from many social media users (lots of positive feedback too) , I'm going ahead with the project because there simply isn't enough people highlighting the corruption in parliament relating to gambling laws.
A big applause to GRASP group (click here), who seem to be the main group in the UK researching deep enough to see what's actually going on in relation to the gambling act and government/gambling industry corruption and PR tactics.
I mentioned our online support is small at the moment, we are urging everyone that supports the cause to please visit and 'like' our Facebook page (here), please share it with your friends. Currently at time of writing we have 219 likes on facebook and it would be great if we had a lot more.
We know that there is a lot more than 219 people that support this cause so please try and help us network. (We simply can't afford to advertise at the moment, especially with ZERO funds in our account.)
So that's it from us for the meantime, a lot of work still needs to be done and we really need passionate volunteers to help push this campaign forward, so if you think you can help in any way then please do get in touch as your actions are vital.
Please do whatever you can to help me keep this campaign going :)
Ben Thacker @ Neuroliberation campaign.