It started when I observed my father refusing to buy a raffle ticket. He was more than happy to donate to the worthy cause that those selling the tickets were raising funds to support. However he was against any form of gambling even buying raffle tickets. I suspect in his role as a policeman he had witnessed the impact of gambling on individuals in his line of duty. It might also have been a result of his religious beliefs.

These days’ tobacco sales have been banned from our television screens. The impact of this measure plus the ever increasing cost of cigarettes has led to a decline in smoking habits and a subsequent improvement in the health of the nation. Sadly the void in advertising space left by the tobacco companies has in part been filled with a multitude of ads for a wide range of gambling schemes. There can be no doubt that the introduction of the National Lottery has provided much needed funds for a wide range of causes especially for national sports. However the range of gambling adverts seems to be excessive. Every night our televisions present a range of bingo or lottery opportunities. They promise untold riches for a small investment and sell the idea that you will be a winner. Online gambling is now easily accessed. As people like Paul Merson will testify, gambling can be destructive and totally addictive leading to life-changing chaos.

It is ironic that one of the leading gambling companies takes out television advertising space to tell us to gamble responsibly. Do we really think a gambling addict will pay attention to this message? The answer is sadly No. The advert does give the company a veneer of carrying responsibility whilst advertising its brand.

The misuse of gambling can and does have drastic consequences on the lives of those seduced by the lure of easy money. Looking at the huge tax bills paid by chief executives of gambling firms it demonstrates what a lucrative business it has become.

The current economic crisis with spiralling costs across the board makes the promise of quick money even more tempting than normal. It is claimed that if you do not buy a ticket you cannot win. What is more the truth is that if you buy a ticket you will be more likely to lose. It has been claimed that winning the National Lottery is less likely than being struck by lightning and you do not expect that to happen in your lifetime.

Moves are afoot to stop young people placing high bets. Recently one company was fined £19 million for allowing a person to gamble £24,000 in 20 minutes. Trying to protect individuals from gambling to excess has proved difficult with so many gambling outlets available.

It is recognised that excess consumption of alcohol is dangerous for our health. The same is true for gambling habits. So many people are struggling with the cost of living that they are susceptible to the possible chance to win ‘The Big One’. What if anything is done in secondary schools to alert young people to the dangers of gambling is not something I am aware of but seems to be a necessary part of any educational programme. This is particularly the case given our televisions are swamped with gambling adverts.

If you do not buy a ticket you are not out of pocket. You can then put the money to better use. Dad never bought a raffle ticket which seems extreme, but it did have the effect of making me look closely at the whole subject of the gambling culture. I have never ventured into the secret world of betting shops but have seen many distraught punters leave unhappy at their losses.

Perhaps the new slogan for our times should be

‘You Bet We Win’. There are no poor bookmakers.