I spent my children's inheritance in the casino. Gambling addict admits to wasting over 150,000 on slot machines and roulette
17:52 GMT, 8 August 2012
Phyllis Sofocleous lost over 150,000 through gambling on slot machines and the roulette tables
Each year 46 billion is spent on gambling machines in the UK.
Up to 500,000 Britons admit to having a gambling problem and this week Deputy Labour Leader Harriet Harman admitted that Labour's decision to relax the gambling laws when they were in in power was a mistake.
Phyllis Sofocleous is one woman who has learned to her cost how addictive the lure of the big win can be, losing over 150,000 on roulette and gambling machines.
Appearing on This Morning alongside her daughter today Phyllis said:
'I started gambling when I was out with friends and it gave me an adrenalin rush.
'After my divorce I had some money that was supposed to be invested for my children, but it was sitting there in the bank and I passed a casino everyday on the way to work in London.
'Life at home wasn't easy at that time and my friends had started going to the casino so I popped in a few times.
'I went once a week, then twice a week, three times … soon I was going every night and lying to my family about where I was, pretending to work overtime.
'The problem is you go in, you play and you win so you think it will be the same the next time but it isn't, and you lose so you go back hoping that it won't happen again.
'You always think you know where that ball is going to drop.'
Daughter Gigi Petite can't understand the draw of gambling so much money. she said:
'We didn't realise where she was going every night at first, but I knew she was lying about something.
'It was worrying but I was a bit younger and I didn't know how much she was losing, I didn't know it was possible to lose that much money.
'When I found out I felt sorry for her, because I know that she didn't do it to be selfish. My brother was very angry.
'I think she was doing it with good intentions though.'
Phyllis's daughter Gigi Petite says she isn't angry with her mother because she didn't gamble to be selfish
'My mum is a strong woman so it was sad she to see her lying and be in denial.
'It's such a shame because that money could have been invested for our future.'
Ian Semel, also on the sofa with Eamon Holmes and Ruth Langsford, is a gambling addiction counselor who calls gambling the hidden addiction.
He said: 'Once you're in a casino it can feel like a pull. And the difference with gambling over every other addiction is that noone will know there is a problem until debts start mounting up and there are money problems.
'People can gamble very secretly and keep it in their world. If you have a problem with alcohol or drugs people can see it, but you can get away with gambling for a lot longer.
'It doesn't matter what you gamble on, things have changed, people can gamble 24/7 on anything now.
'But the good news is that the treatment has changed too and there are measures in place to help people seek help, such as self exclusion from casinos.'
Phyllis, whose new partner has helped her kick the gambling habit, added:
'You see the awareness stickers on the machines but you forget what you are doing.
'I really didn't think I needed help until there was no money left.
'I don't know what would have happened if I hadn't met my new partner at the time I did.
'I'm glad my daughter knows because it's hard to lie anymore. It's out
in the open so I feel better in myself now that the story is out there.'
Phyllis and her daughter Gigi appeared on This Morning with a gambling addiction counsellor
VIDEO: Watch gambler's daughter talk about her mother's habit on This Morning