Llysfaen man gambled away £500,000 by his late 20s

A man who lost £500,000 betting has described how his gambling addiction started with gaming as a teenager.

Jordan Lea, from Llysfaen, Conwy county, started placing bets at about 14, and by his late 20s, was in huge debt. 

He has set up a gambling help charity that is seeing „a huge amount” of young people getting hooked. 

Early education on problem gambling is urgently needed, Public Health Wales (PHW) said.

Mr Lea said there was „a very prominent link” between gaming and gambling, adding: „I actually became addicted to gambling through gaming when I was 14 or 15 years old.

„By the time I was 18, I was already primed for quite a severe gambling addiction, which led me down a [path to the] criminal justice system.”

By his late 20s, his life had collapsed into debt and compulsive betting, he told BBC Radio Wales.

But his life changed when a casino croupier confronted him about his problem.

„I just broke down in tears,” he said. 

„That was the catalyst that really pushed me to get help.”

He later founded Deal Me Out, an awareness and education charity on gambling and gaming-related harms in Wales.

„People call it the hidden addiction,” he said. 

„With online gambling it’s on your phone, you have a casino in your pocket. You can do that on the toilet without being seen by anyone.”

He believes a „severe lack of education” about the dangers of gambling meant his problems went unacknowledged for years.

As a support worker, his „primary concern” is now for young people getting hooked online „through skin betting with crypto websites”.

He said „frontline education” is needed for young people and their parents.

PHW said the links between gambling and gaming need to be acknowledged.

It called for urgent action to tighten „regulation of gambling industry advertising and practices”.

The organisation also wants early education, more addiction support, and help from frontline health workers to identify problem gamblers and get them the help they need. 

PHW’s Annie Ashman said harmful gambling was having „devastating effects” on health and wellbeing.

„A system-wide approach is needed to take action on every level of the causes and resulting harms that gambling can have,” she said. 

„This includes knocking down the barrier of shame and stigma, early education in schools, empowering GPs and other frontline services to identify and refer on to specialist services.”

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