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Gillingham gambler Robert Deeming smashes up fixed odds betting machines at William Hill and Coral in Chatham

By Lynn Cox

A self-confessed gambling addict who smashed controversial betting machines with a hammer said he did it to highlight how much money is lost on them.

Robert Deeming, 60, lost between £3,000 and £4,000 in a month by playing roulette on the fixed odds betting terminals (FOBTs) after his personal life spiralled out of control.

Consumed with anger at what he thought was the unfairness of the machines, he vented his fury at two bookies in Chatham and launched a crazed attack on six terminals.

Gambling addict Robert Deeming's life spiralled out of control by playing roulette on fixed odds betting terminals

Deeming, who has never been in trouble with the law before, went to William Hill and Coral in Military Road where he had lost the money.

He took a hammer and walked into the shops during the evening of March 20 and caused thousands of pounds of damage.

He was arrested and later charged with two counts of criminal damage and admitted the offences when he appeared before Medway magistrates.

The court banned him from going into any betting shop in the Medway Towns for the next two years and placed him under curfew for four months.

Deeming, of Brompton High Street, Gillingham, must now stay indoors throughout the summer from noon until 6pm.

He was also ordered to pay £300 in compensation and £145 in court costs, a financial penalty he can ill afford and is having to pay it off in instalments.

Deeming attacked William Hill in Chatham

FOBTs have been at the centre of controversy, particularly in the Medway Towns, where they have been described by campaigners as the "crack cocaine" of gambling due to the way they attract often vulnerable gamblers.

Deeming, who is now on sickness benefits, says he started gambling on cards when he was about 12 and says he had been addicted for almost 50 years.

He used to bet on dog and horse racing until the FOBTs were introduced.

He said: "I have frequented betting shops all my life. I had been playing them all month after some personal problems in my life got on top of me.

"The bad news just sent me off the rails. l had lost thousands in less than a month and I only had a little bit left and I was frustrated about it."

Fixed odds betting terminals called the 'crack cocaine' of gambling

He added: "These machines are meant to be random, but they just don't seem to work like that.

"I have seen people put every penny they have in them and walk away with nothing."

The sight of this and losing money himself bothered him and started to make him feel ill.

"It was like I was on a moral crusade," he said. "I broke the law to publicise that something should be done about these machines – I wanted to bring it to the attention of the world.

"I made sure there were no women behind the counter when I did it and I thought I would get some satisfaction out of it, but I didn't.

"I regretted it as soon as I did it and I would not condone anyone else doing it, but desperate times lead to desperate measures."

Robert Deeming at home in Brompton with his court tag

Deeming, who used to work in Chatham Dockyard, also heard the machines he smashed up were repaired the next day.

He added: "It says in the bookies you can win £10,000 on the machines. I've never seen anyone win more than £4,000."

He has had some "big wins", but believes he has lost about £100,000 in his lifetime and is now virtually penniless.

"I don't even have Sky TV or anything," he added. "Everything I have ever won had gone back to the bookies. I have an addiction.

"I am one of the brightest blokes you could meet, but I am also the stupidest."

Coral in Military Road, Chatham

Deeming added: "People like me bet on these machines because the odds are meant to be better than racing betting the percentage is higher so theoretically you should win more, but you don't.

"These gambling machines are not what they seem.

"I hope not to gamble again and I am banned from all betting shops in Medway for the next two years.

"But I guess if I really wanted to start again I would just have to jump on the train to Gravesend or Sittingbourne and use the betting shops there."

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