KEIGHLEY gym worker Nathan Barnes was sleeping on his brother’s floor after gambling sent him on a seven-year downward spiral.

Then he had a chat with a customer who said he went to the gym every day because he had a terminal illness and wanted to prolong his life.

That was the spark Nathan needed to turn his own life around, putting his own troubles into perspective and forcing him to seek help for his addiction.

Nathan has now gone public about his road to ruin and recovery in order to encourage other people with gambling problems to go to the professionals.

As part of Responsible Gambling Week, Nathan highlighted the work of support bodies such as the recently-launched NHS Northern Gambling Service, run by Leeds and York Partnership NHS Foundation Trust but serving the Keighley area.

Nathan, 27, said his own addiction began when he put his first £20 note in a fixed odds betting terminal.

He said: “As many gamblers can attest to, number 22 came up which was the only number that wasn’t covered! I felt absolutely furious, absolutely empty.

“Then the chase came. Suddenly a full month of my wage was in the machine with nothing to show for it. Already I was plotting my revenge against the bookies.

“I went home, took a £300 payday loan with 1,200% interest, and started plotting schemes, researching algorithms and ‘insider information’ to get even with the dastardly bookies.

“After seven expensive years, three bad debt credit cards, a high interest credit union overdraft, a standard overdraft, four payday loans and £4,500 of tuition loans, I found myself sleeping on my little brother’s floor.”

Then came the inspirational chat with his customer, in May 2018, and Nathan vowed never to gamble again.

He said: “I confessed everything to my family and friends. I also vowed to my new partner that I would never gamble again and that has been absolutely crucial in my recovery.

“The Northern Gambling Service would have helped me tremendously in terms of access to quality services to help deal with my conditions, thoughts and concerns.

“It’s wonderful that the NHS is now investing in treating problem gamblers. Hopefully now the term ‘Gambling addict’ is taken much more seriously.”

Clinical lead for the NHS Northern Gambling Service, consultant psychologist Matthew Gaskell, said it was wrong to suggest that people with an addiction were irresponsible.

He said: “This increases the stigma and shame people with addiction problems feel which makes it harder for them to come forward and get help. I want to see more responsibility from gambling operators, more responsible advertising, responsible lending and access to credit, as well as better legislation.

“Responsible gambling will be better achieved with a serious and collective effort to protect the young and vulnerable from harm.

“The Northern Gambling Service supports people every day who’ve fallen victim to the dangers of gambling. For many, their lives have been almost destroyed by an addiction that shows no sign of declining in prevalence.

“The chances of recovery from addictions like problem gambling can be very good with proper treatment.”

The NHS Northern Gambling Service provides addiction therapy and recovery to people affected by gambling addiction, as well as those with mental health problems such as depression, anxiety, trauma, and suicidal feelings.

People can call the service on 0300 3001490, email, or