A massive personal setback years ago has led to father and son David and Adam Bradford developing an app to keep players safe from the allure of a gambling addiction. Here’s why they set up BetProtect.
In 2014, David Bradford was living a double life. His only friend was his computer as he fell into the throes of an online gambling addiction, constantly looking for his next big win to make it all worthwhile.
David’s gambling habit escalated online to the point where he secretly remortgaged the family home and stole £50,000 from his employer. Eventually, he had amassed hundreds of thousands of pounds of debt and was eventually jailed for fraud, which none of his friends or family saw coming.
”As I never believed I had a gambling problem, I never sought help in any form,” he says. ”On reflection I needed intervention from a trusted source. My trusted friend was my computer where I submerged myself into the gambling experience. Only on very few occasions did I feel I needed help. There was no life raft to guide me and indeed support me.”
”I drowned in my delusional world and nobody was listening.”
During those dark times, David only ever sought out his next gambling session. “My oasis was the online gambling experience in which my next win would rectify my huge losses.”
For David, the lack of support, guidance or even an empathetic, non-judgmental ear made it all the more difficult to break the habit. This is what led him to develop an app to help others facing the same issues. ”Using my experience and that of others, we have produced an ever attentive tool called BetProtect. No other support tool existed back at the height of my gambling,” he says.
“Solace was always to play more and more. BetProtect is available now to encourage a pause for thought in the journey and furthermore an invitation to explore the products within such that it would be my best friend without judgement. Nothing was available in my darkest moments until now.”
The hidden addiction was made clear to his family only once they were told he had been handed a prison sentence for his crimes. This story and the impact on the family was the inspiration for the Bradfords’ own awareness-raising work and subsequent work with the industry to provide an extra layer of support to those at risk.
David partnered with his son Adam to create the mobile web app to enhance player interaction while creating an engaging “take a break” facility. BetProtect is built with the industry’s and regulator’s expectations in mind, but also with the support of specialist therapists, counsellors and those with lived experiences.
BetProtect provides self-help tools, safety messages and an informative and engaging ‘time out’ zone for all players who use licenced operators’ gambling products.
The tool, which is powered by Gibraltar-based safer gambling consultancy Crucial Compliance, includes a comprehensive business intelligence system which will enable operators to map and measure common consumer issues for support, to inform safer gambling strategies and help tailor customer interventions. The priority message of BetProtect is to take a break, consider their own behaviour and engage with a platform away from gambling.
The product is accessible for web and mobile devices and includes localised content for international territories such as the UK, USA and Europe with local translation available. As required and expected of any Safer Gambling Product, it has also been peer reviewed by a group of specialist addiction counsellors.
”BetProtect is an opportunity for the industry to put its best foot forward in providing additional safety messaging and a safe space for people to take time out at any point in the customer journey in an accessible way,” says Adam. ”We know there is no silver bullet to completely minimising gambling-related harms but in the suite of tools and offerings the industry presents to its users, we see this software as an effective part of that portfolio.”
Adam is no stranger to entrepreneurship. In September 2013 he launched the ‘Look Past the Label’ campaign to raise awareness of Autism, a condition he suffers from himself, to ‘rid people of the stigma of the condition’ and ‘encourage Autistic people to be aspirational.’ In 2016, he received a Queen’s Young Leaders Award for his work to help young people set up community projects, social enterprises and campaigns for social good.
After a tumultuous few years, the entrepreneurial father and son duo are now optimistic for turning millions of lives around through the power of technology. “We are looking forward to working with operators on implementing the solution for their customers to suit their own customer journeys and responsible gambling tools.”