On the surface Simon Perfitt had it all. Barely a decade ago the 47-year-old divorcee had moved in with a new girlfriend, drove a Porsche and took lucrative posts in e-commerce where pay deals were sweetened by corporate perks such as free housing.
But Perfitt led a double life. He did not earn money to build a better life but instead used it to feed a gambling addiction to bookmakers’ betting terminals. His cravings saw him lose not only his relationship but left him homeless and facing personal ruin after pouring, he says, £200,000 into the machines.
Fixed odds betting terminals (FOBTs), which offer high-stakes, high-speed casino games such as roulette, were dubbed the “crack cocaine of gambling” almost the day they arrived in Britain. Solitary, uninterrupted machine play, it was claimed, produced a trance-like state, not dissimilar to that experienced by a drug addict.