A WIGAN mum who bravely went public to reveal her gambling addiction is fighting for tougher legislation.
When Kelly Field first saw a television advert for a hugely successful online bingo site she believed it was just harmless and painless fun from her sofa.
They target vulnerable people and make them believe they can make money from gamblingKelly Field
Today the 32-year-old, who admits that the crisis pushed her to the edge of suicide, is battling to break free from more than £45,000 of debt accrued because of the crippling online bingo habit she went on to develop.
She is now committed to a £265 per month repayment agreement for the next FIVE years.
Kelly is now bidding to launch a campaign with Makerfield’s Yvonne Fovargue - encouraged by the MPs high profile success in banning the Wonga puppet adverts - to also ban the industry’s adverts before the television watershed, while currently working for tougher controls on the maximum amount of cash credit card companies can lend such borrowers.
Kelly is also planning a Leeds to Liverpool towpath cycle marathon over the August Bank Holiday to raise awareness of her fight, with a fund-raising fun day the weekend before in to support MIND and “vital” counselling service Beacon Trust, which has offices in Wigan and Leigh.
Her story - Ms Field was not paid a fee but chose to speak out to help warn others not to fall into the same trap - was carried across the national press.
It also earned her an invitation to appear on Good Morning Britain on ITV to warn others to avoid such pitfalls.
Hard-working Kelly first became hooked while she was off for eight weeks from her job as a residential child care worker due to a work-related grievance.
Her gambling became so bad she turned to self-harm after worrying about how she would ever escape the addiction.
She first saw an advert for online gambling while watching morning television programmes.
In the end she had “maxed out” five credit cards and ended up raiding a savings account she and her partner had set up.
She said: “You can go on these internet gambling sites and do it in your own home in comfort and to begin with it’s not a big deal.
“They target vulnerable people and make them believe they can make money from gambling.
“I understand some people gamble and have no issues.
“But many people have a problem and this destroys lives, families and even drives people to suicide.
“It destroys people and leaves them with long-term debts, depression and stress.
“I am now challenging the credit card companies in terms of their policies about credit lending limits.
“Within a year, on one card I used, I was allowed to go to £10,000 with no questions asked, which just can’t be right for somebody in my situation.
“And that is something that I am taking up with the Financial Ombudsman now.
“I want to change the broadcasting rules to remove advertising for gambling sites from the telly before 9pm.
“It is all singing, all dancing, glamorising gambling and is aimed at young children, vulnerable adults and women in particular.
“You have to be 18 to gamble so why on earth should they be allowed to advertise before the watershed hour?”