INTRODUCTION

We’re two ordinary people, Martin and Ade, both of whom have had serious addiction problems. Sheer intuition and experience rang bells regarding fixed odds betting terminals. Rightly or wrongly, we felt strongly that they represent a significant difference from other forms of gambling.

After googling a while we very quickly discovered that we hadn’t stumbled upon something new. We came across hundreds, then thousands of news stories, social media entries, television programmes, parliamentary and council debates, reports from the main Churches, psychiatrists and doctors, individuals whose lives were devestated by addiction – and this had been going on for many years. We found ourselves researching places totally unfamiliar to us, such as parliamentary processes.

Standing back, we saw that issues around gambling were much wider than machines in betting shops. We started looking at television advertisements then online gambling. We came to the tentative conclusion that the signs suggested that there is a growing encouragement to gamble and some forms of betting may be very dangerous. Let it be clear here that we were not concerned with betting as a leisure pursuit in general, but specifically about what we perceived as a sea change in gambling behaviour. We worried about the implications for gambling addiction, especially among young people and more vulnerable folk.

Then we stood back again! We thought about the digital world in general – how we use our tablets, and smartphones and computers. Could it be that our use of them – the hours we spend on them being an obvious example – was itself some sort of addiction? As said, we’re ordinary guys but it wasn’t hard to find books and a growing number of academic articles on the internet (where else?) that argued that our interaction with digital devices is changing the way we think and behave and relate to others.

That’s how our main website, The Machine Zone, came to exist. It looks at all those wider issues to do with the digital environment. Beat the Fix is the first project.

Over the weeks, we discovered examples defending the new gambling machines. We also found enthusiastic defenders of digital technology who downplay pessimistic worries and point instead to a bright new future. We were becoming overwhelmed by conflicting view and so much information. Then we discovered that some psychologists are researching ‘information gathering’ addiction!

We have our own views and so do you. We hope that in an open, friendly and fair way what we present on our sites is engaging and stimulating.