I've got friends who gamble. I've never understood it myself - if you wanna make money for doing next to nothing, there's plenty of more sure things than betting on some horse or what card someone will turn up next. But when quizzed, these friends speak about the thrill that gambling gives them. It’s about the excitement, and excitement can be very addictive indeed.
In recent years, some of my gambling friends have found a new place to practice their vice - the Internet. By visiting sites like Betfair, they are able to place bets on football, horses, cards and all other sorts with remarkable ease. But is it just all a bit too easy?
Richard Mahan probably thinks so. This 25 year old from Angus in Scotland recently lost a whopping £158,000 in less than an hour in an Internet gambling spree. Mahan, who later tried to kill himself after running up the massive debt, utilised his parents' credit cards to run up the debt in 50 minutes. Wow.
The case has prompted calls for urgent action on what Mahan's solicitor described as "the scourge of the 21st century". Its of no doubt that Internet gambling needs some kind of review - if its possible to loose such a great amount in so little time, just by using credit cards, then something is very wrong somewhere.
The Gamblers Anonymous website has many similar stories of addition to Internet gambling, albeit sometimes for not quite so vast sums. One gambling addict said: "I sit in front of my computer every day....I'm desperate to stop but it's taken over. A one off gamble turns into a marathon gambling session, usually trying to get back what I've lost."