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Documentary Photography module of the Photographic Journalism BSc (hons) course at Leeds Beckett University Component: Documentary Feature BY ROSEANNA GYLES Written for Vice Magazine


A woman sits outside a William Hill bookmakers begging passers by for money.


GAMBLING CULTURE The UK Allows Vulnerable Adults to be used as Pawns by Big Gambling Corporations BY ROSEANNA GYLES



he organisation GamCare was set up for people

for over five years, uses the site to keep a diary of her

who are getting into trouble gambling, they

progress in stopping gambling. Her profile states she

offer a helpline where volunteers can steer people in has been gambling free for 103 days, just as with other the right direction so that they get the help they need. forms of addiction the earliest stages of withdrawal can Anxiety and gambling often go hand in hand so it’s

be both the most difficult and most important. Loxxie

important to make sure that people get the help they has a support network; her daughter has been helping need to get away from their addiction. GamCare offer

her battle with the addiction, installing blockers and

advice and can even set up meetings with councillors giving her someone to talk to. This is not the case for who will assess what help will best help a person, everyone and recovering can be a lot harder when on an individual basis. The organisation also runs a you feel like you are on your own. Because of the forum and chat rooms for people who are struggling

embarrassment of losses many regular gamblers lie

with Gambling related problems to discuss them in a about their habits, making it harder for family and community of peers who can really understand what friends to help. When family and friends are able to they are going through.

help this can also be an emotional drain for them, often leading to a break down in connections and support.

One user, who goes by the name Loxxie, a middle Loxxie says on day eleven of gambling abstinence aged mother who has battled with gambling addiction her head was “all over the place”, she managed to stay 4 VICE

strong but this was made drastically more difficult

they are pointing towards. The man is so intoxicated

when one of the gambling sites she previously used he can barely walk straight, it’s not clear why this is but ‘self-excluded’ from when she began her detox but judging by all three individuals gaunt looks, from sent her an enticing voucher in the post. She said the mans swaying and the woman begging it was clear “How bad is this...excluded from babs Windsor site they were somewhere in between alcoholics and drug two weeks ago, got today a £150 VOUCHER WITH addicts. It was the woman leaning down to talk and COPLIMENTS ...what a joke...thank goodness I’m the swaying man who I coincidently captured again, doing well and have no urges to play”. This action by

coming out of an adult amusement arcade (left), which

the company was completely illegal and unlikely to be

advertises that it offers free tea and coffee. Whilst this

an isolated incident.

seems like a generous offering it is also an example of how businesses like these bring in customers who are

When I was looking over my photographs from one already struggling with money, for whatever reason. shoot I noticed that by complete coincidence I had The machines in these places are cheap to use, 20p managed to photograph the same people twice. The

fruit machines and the like, addicts and the homeless

woman begging in the cover photo, with another therefore frequent them, in the hopes of turning their woman crouching down to talk to her and the man

pennies into pounds.

OPPOSITE PAGE: Storeys Amusements. THIS PAGE: A William hill betting shop down an alley, a Ladbrokes betting shop can also be seen further down the same road.



A woman leads her children passed a Nobles Amusements in a run down area.


Because it is true that people should take control

this epidemic we need to address the availability and

of their own actions, it’s difficult to determine draw of gambling and this can only start by stopping where support for these individuals should come the saturation of its promotion. from. Unlike with other mentally addictive things gambling is allowed to be aggressively advertised, on

If the government can keep marijuana illegal because

our televisions, smartphones, computers and in the

of the mental health problems it can bring on and

windows of betting shops that continually infiltrate

because it can become mentally addictive, they

the lowest income areas, targeting the desperate. should surely look into gambling in the same light. What they are doing here is immoral, directing their Both are physically non-addictive things, both can advertising at the most desperate and in this sense

bring on mental health and general life problems if

vulnerable individuals because they know in this

used irresponsibly, so why is gambling allowed to be

group the temptation of the possibility of winning big advertised so exhaustively to the point where it’s very is often just to powerful to resist. Organisations can difficult to not have information about it absorbed try and protect people from further destruction and loss but these generally only deal with people once they have got into problems. To really put an end to 8 VICE

whilst living a normal life.

Adverts for the national lottery lurk outside every corner shop, at the till a bombardment of scratch cards is featured front and centre whilst tobacco products have to be kept out of sight, betting shops are everywhere. Poundland, an incredibly

OPPOSITE PAGE: Scratch Cards are some of the UK’s most commonly abandoned litter. THIS PAGE: A William Hill betting shop on a Tuesday morning.

cheap shop that stocks almost all of life’s essentials and as such is used mainly by our nations poorest people, have recently started stocking their own scratch cards, which are not National Lottery certified. Huge display cases, taller then most of the cashiers, have been obnoxiously placed at every counter so that they are unavoidable, what’s more the cashiers are actually directing people to the scratch cards as they often do with products that are on offer at the till, usually broken and out-of-date chocolate. Fruit machines are placed in bars where the alcohol component represents another vulnerability for businesses to take advantage of.

I spoke to a self-confessed gambling addict who continues to regularly gamble. A young man, only 22 years old, it might seem surprising but a large amount of young people get heavily caught up in gambling. Rob is one of these people, and he kindly agreed to tell us a little bit about his situation (interview overleaf). VICE 9

“embarrassingly I lost it all” When did you first get in to gambling? Well my dad is a gambler, always has been, he’s wasted my family’s life savings… but that’s another story. I had my first real taste of gambling when I was 16 and my dad took me to the bookies on my birthday, he let me pick a horse and we put 16 pounds on it, it came in and I got nearly 300 pounds back. It was such a rush, I was instantly hooked but lucky for me I couldn’t really make much of a habit of visiting the bookies yet at that point cause you’re not actually legally allowed to until you’re 18. It’s just the same as going out drinking when you’re underage though, if they don’t ask for ID, you don’t have to be the right age and, if your mate has ID you can usually get away with getting them to buy drinks/place bets for you.

So you still gambled a bit but not really as frequently? Oh yeah, to be honest it was still a regular thing, the bets were just a lot smaller and the majority of it was on scratch cards and lottery tickets. For a while after I turned 18 I loved going to the bookies, in fact until recently really when I discovered online gambling this was my main way of placing bets. I gamble so much online now, last summer I had built up over a grand online and then embarrassingly I lost it all, I don’t know why I didn’t withdraw any of it, I was just in this really weird place, completely zoned out, some of the amounts I was betting were stupid too, it was all just stupid really. That’s the worst I’ve ever been with it I think.

How much do you estimate you’ve lost over the years? Oh, god, I can’t even think about that!


A Woman feeds money into a fruit machine.



One of Rob’s betting slips for a horse race, he lost.



Another young man on his own in the bookies on a Tuesday morning


Rob after his first horse loses

A few days later I got a call from Rob inviting me to just tell me to which he replied, “okay, but it won’t accompany him to the bookies. It’s a Tuesday morning

be as good”. He began pointing and explaining at

at around 10:30am, the air is tense and thick with loss which point I noticed his sleeves were all falling apart, in the William Hill he chose to take me to. It’s also

a better look at the man, who was probably only in

surprisingly busy for a weekday morning; there are at

his mid to late twenties, showed that in fact all of his

least six or seven other people there doing various bits clothes were tattered and he was very skinny indeed. of gambling at all times with people regularly coming I couldn’t help but wonder whether he was battling and going. The average ages seem fairly evenly split with a gambling addiction and whether this was the between 18 to 30 year olds and 50 plus.

reason for his light weight and disintegrating clothing. However, It seemed a bit of a deep question to ask

A young man approached me whilst I was taking someone you’ve just met and after he’d explained photographs of one of the roulette machines. He

roulette and more importantly, he said, how to “win”

offered to show me how it worked, I said yes but at roulette, his phone rang, he announced he had to go then he said, “Put a couple of quid in then”, I’m not interested in gambling really so I asked if he could 16 VICE

and hurried off out of the shop door.

Rob wins £25.80 on a roulette machine, after feeding a £10 note into it and placing a £10 bet on the horses

The man with tattered clothes explaining how to use the roulette machine.


Documentary Photography Feature  
Documentary Photography Feature