A former gambling addict who lost over a million pounds has spoken about the “hidden disease” within the Asian community and says he is committed to tackling this problem.

Hussain Vorajee orginally from Preston said his gambling addiction led to the breakdown of his marriage. He subsequently lost his business and property and was left facing bankruptcy. 

Speaking to Asian Image, Hussain said, “Gambling, like many other things, is forbidden in my religion of Islam. But addiction does not discriminate.

“It can happen to anyone at any time of their life.”

Hussain said his gambling addiction began thirty years ago when he played slot machines in arcades. He soon progressed to fixed odds betting terminals (FOBT) found in betting shops. These machines have been branded the “crack cocaine” of gambling.

After FOBTs were introduced in 2001 they became a big revenue stream for betting shops, generating £1.7bn annually in gross gambling yield, according to the regulator, the Gambling Commission.

“In the arcades I was losing up to £100 a day. But when the FOBT machines appeared, the damage became far more insidious.

“On any bad day, I could easily lose £3000 to £5000.

“I could also win thousands on a good day, but this addiction was lethal. You could never take the money home and spend it.

“It was so addictive that you would play and play until you lose it all and then get more money to carry on feeding these horrible, sick, machines.”

Hundreds of thousands of people in England have a serious problem with gambling, with an additional 2 million at risk of developing a disorder.

Last month the first NHS gambling clinic for children opened amid growing concern that the rise of online gaming sites and targeted adverts is fuelling a problem among young people.

Asian Image:

Hussain said he is now campaigning vigorously to raise awareness of gambling addiction. 

“Gambling is a massive problem within the Asian community, regardless of people’s beliefs.

“Gambling exposes people to the risk of addiction.

“It’s a hidden disease in our Asian community across the UK.

“At one stage you could find Asian people sitting around in bookmakers betting on horses and dogs. 
“Now it’s all about machines and online gambling.

“I lost a lot of money online.

“You will hear the same story with a lot of serious gambling addicts out there.

“It’s a huge problem amongst our youth. If they are not in the shops, then they are gambling away online on their phones.

“Since I started campaigning around three years ago, many others have launched their own campaigns trying to minimise other issues within the gambling network.

“Gambling With Lives is the one I support. I was there for their launch last November in the House of Commons. It was set up by families bereaved by gambling related suicides.

“We aim to raise awareness amongst gamblers, their families and friends, and health professionals of the dangerous effects of gambling on mental health and the high suicide risk.”

More action, Hussain says, needs to be taken by the government to ban gambling advertisements across all forums.

“The adverts can be very enticing. 

“It’s very important we keep campaigning from all angles to make sure that the industry keeps declining day by day.

“Although a quarter of betting shops on UK high streets  are said to be closing after the stricter regulation of FOBT’s, more work needs to be done to address online gambling.

“Personally, I don’t think personally any addict can say they have stopped totally as I believe that you can relapse anytime.

“You need to have good people around you.”