THE Swindon branch of Gamblers Anonymous meets at Gorse Hill Community Centre in Chapel Street three times a week.

Sessions are held on Tuesdays and Wednesdays from 7pm until 9pm, and on Sundays from 1.30pm to 3.30pm.

Anybody is welcome at any session.

“All you need,” said David, “is the desire to stop gambling.”

Some people, he knows, might be loath to come forward and admit they have a problem or talk about some of the things that problem has led them to do - things of which they may be ashamed.

David urges them to dismiss such fears.

“There’s nothing new under the sun. We share our experiences and you’ll find members with very similar personal situations, so they can empathise and help you become a stronger person.

“Nothing will surprise the members who’ve been going there for a very long time. They’ve heard it all before.

“For those who have been to GA before and got themselves into the gambling world again and want to stop, you’re more than welcome to come back. I always try and say that to folk.

“I’ve heard of people saying that when they went back to gambling after stopping, they went back ten times worse.

“Instead of a pound they’d be betting a tenner, and then go back and put hundreds of pounds on.”

There are men and women from all backgrounds, united by a desire to keep themselves away from what David calls the bad place.

And what is the bad place?

“Ultimately it can be to commit suicide.

“You can lose your family, lose your job, lose your friends, lie, cheat, go to jail. You will do anything that fulfils your desire to get the money to have the next bet. You might stay up all night, gambling on the computer, not telling your partner.

“There are various kinds of rock bottom but the ultimate is suicide.”

David, who last gambled the best part of two decades ago, is keen to stress that the people calling for the borough council to have gambling establishments display GA’s contact information do so only on their own behalf.

The organisation as a whole is scrupulously politically neutral.

Nor does he suggest that the gambling industry is necessarily hostile to the idea of publicising GA.

“They might get their guidance from central government, and therefore don’t know about the work of GA. We’ve never approached them before in respect to this.”

Having almost destroyed his own life through gambling - card games were a particular compulsion - many years ago, David is ruefully amused by the messages in betting shops and on adverts for betting, which urge people to stop when the fun stops.

“We laugh at that. When do you know you’re crossing the border? You don’t. I didn’t know when gambling stopped being fun and became an illness. It could have been twenty, thirty, forty years ago.

“We’re not advocating – and I’m not advocating as an individual – stopping people from having fun. We’re just trying to help people realise when there is a problem.”

Although online gambling draws people who would shun, say, betting shops and casinos, David insists the underlying compulsion, remains unchanged.

He uses the notorious fixed-odds gambling machines as an example.

“I’ve gambled a month’s wages when I was playing cards, but these guys can gamble away a month’s wages in a few minutes on the machine.”

Further information about GA can be found at and on 07828 081189.