How my previous gambling dependancy gave me my company thought –

George T. Taft
Beating an dependancy isn’t easy. For Jack Symons, gambling was his vice. Conquering his dependancy led to him founding his business enterprise, Gamban, a engineering that blocks entry to any online gambling across all of a customer’s gadgets. 

Now, Gamban performs with the likes of Lloyds Banking Team, as nicely as big gamers in the gambling business – which includes Flutter – to assistance men and women regain handle and balance, devoid of compromising on the benefits of new technologies. How? We spoke to Symons to discover a lot more.

True Company (RB): Explain to me about your track record, what you ended up doing prior to founding Gamban? 

Jack Symons (JS): Just before starting Gamban, I was freelancing as a organization enhancement marketing consultant for various purchasers. Two of my consumers have been design and style companies, one particular focused on visual merchandising the other totally digital.

I was lucky sufficient to be ready to adhere to my entrepreneurial curiosity when also bringing in enough dollars to make finishes meet up with. A previous video networking startup I co-started referred to as 85by55 was progressing effectively but the set-backs proved far too substantially. Subsequent rejection at Y Combinator interview, our startup was acquired and subsequently reworked into a movie recruitment instrument referred to as PowerMeeter.

After living in Norway for in excess of a yr I moved again to the United kingdom south coast, whilst continuing to work for a Norwegian shopper. One chilly night in 2014, a log hearth warmed my relatives residence – a thatched cottage by the sea. This rapidly turned into a blazing hearth and all the things went up in flames. I ended up going a small even more along the coast. 

Study a lot more: Impression of the COVID-19 lockdown on on the web gambling

RB: How really serious was your gambling activity? 

JS: I gambled on the net since I was fairly younger – really given that on-line poker was obtainable to United kingdom players. At college, not a day went by where by I didn’t participate in on the internet and on several events I was taking part in up to fourteen hours a working day. On line gambling is normally a great deal a lot easier to cover than other forms of ‘offline’ gambling, so I was capable to maintain it concealed.

Following the dwelling-fire, when in our rented ‘half-way house’ I was gambling on-line 1 night and hit a jackpot. In get to withdraw the cash and fulfill the bonus requirements, I had to carry on wagering a major total of income. That evening, I was enjoying solitary palms of blackjack and online video poker at about £5000 a hand – in some scenarios a whole lot far more.  Inevitably, I was in a position to withdraw the money and had extra funds in my lender account than I had at any time experienced ahead of.

Over time I found myself actively playing considerably less poker but far more casino games and slots. It was the slots that became the dilemma for me.

Once you get a flavor for the swings – the higher highs and the lower lows – it’s tricky to go back again.

Scaled-down bets just didn’t give the exact same hurry. And poker took much too very long to produce the hit. What I was accomplishing was extremely rapidly becoming unaffordable and prior to extensive I experienced lost the income I experienced saved. We normally listen to about ‘chasing the loss’ – I was chasing the gain. On many situations I won scaled-down quantities that I just couldn’t bring myself to withdraw for the reason that it was not a jackpot.

I had turn into a ‘jackpot gambler’ – I was only fascinated in hitting a jackpot, as unlikely as that may be.

RB: How did you develop Gamban and when was it introduced? What ended up the startup expenditures?

JS: I tried using to cease so often but each and every time I would find myself actively playing all over again. I generally had an overdraft but that was the limit of my debts. If I experienced just about anything earlier mentioned zero, I would gamble it. 

I needed a thing to stand between me and gambling mainly because my willpower evidently wasn’t sufficient. At this level I was very ready to downgrade my phone if important but I nonetheless wanted my computer.

The 1st thing I did was set up ‘parental management software’. After this was on my pc I felt an overwhelming perception of accomplishment – I couldn’t gamble even if I needed to. The drawback in this article was that I required to give my father the password or I could merely override it.

For the initial number of weeks this arrangement labored really very well but then the program turned rather effortless for me to disable and also blocked me from websites that weren’t gambling-linked, which was frustrating. I tried every other obtainable parental management computer software.

I then discovered unique software package I could install to block myself from gambling. The initially difficulty is very little would do the job on my MacOS computer. I was advised to get a Home windows laptop or computer but I didn’t want to modify this as I owned a ton of software on MacOS which I wouldn’t be ready to use on Home windows.

I did set up just one of these systems on a spare laptop but I uncovered it manufactured the computer system unusable and blocked something remotely to do with gambling, so ‘chips’ like you’d obtain in a cafe would flag as casino forex and for that reason the pc would freeze up and shut down. Very little was offered on any of the mobile functioning devices.

One particular evening my father and I we ended up speaking about gambling and I brought up the concept of light-weight-touch, cross-platform program that blocked obtain to very little but gambling. He inspired me and mentioned he believed it was a very good concept.

As I was still gambling, I wanted this – so I acquired to get the job done straight away.

Here’s how Gamban works

I experienced been studying some simple programming and I figured I knew how I would go about setti
ng up a prototype for MacOS. The difficult part was building and populating a database of gambling internet sites and apps. Within two times I had 16,000 gambling domains on a spreadsheet.

At this stage I knew I’d will need help on some of the other working devices and observed an overseas company to aid the improvement. The company founder, Mavia Siddiqui, his workforce and I expended just over a year developing the products and solutions for distinct operating methods. 

With progress underway, Matt Zarb-Cousin and I linked on-line though he was operating on the Marketing campaign for Fairer Gambling (fighting to decrease the stakes on the FOBTs from £100 a spin to £2).

The full charges up to this point have been about £20,000. It was distinct there was early fascination from sector to monetarily assistance this venture but we felt it was not the appropriate time to be partnering.

Mavia, Matt and I had been itching to release the software package and introduced in 2016 with Mac, Home windows and Android, offering the software package totally free of charge for the following two many years though we navigated the ideal route to sustainability. 

Matt introduced inventor of 3-Card Poker, philanthropist and companion in the Marketing campaign for Fairer Gambling, Derek Webb. Derek would go on to economically aid the growth of the merchandise and the enterprise above the following several years. 

Over time, the products and solutions have enhanced substantially – there is a large amount of shifting sections to gambling-blocking software but it is well worth the investment for the positive affect the applications have on quality of daily life.

RB: How does Gamban do the job and how powerful is it?

JS: Gamban can be put in on Windows, MacOS, iOS and Android gadgets and blocks individuals from accessing gambling web pages and applications. 

As soon as put in, it’s developed to be tough to take away – that’s not to say impossible but we consider to find the suitable harmony in between intrusion and defense. 

According to a 2018 study, 88% of respondents reported that they would advise Gamban as aspect of their recovery system. In a different 2020 survey, 83% of respondents said that they identified Gamban a lot more effective in blend with other procedures than independently.

We always recommend utilizing other boundaries in addition to gambling-blocking application. The friction these boundaries offer give the particular person a possibility to imagine concerning urge and motion. During this time, they can journey out their urge or believe all over again in advance of acting on temptation.

In a earth exactly where it is progressively tempting to facilitate immediate gratification by way of electronic action, we want men and women to be ready to regain control and harmony, devoid of compromising on the gains of new technologies working with Gamban they can do that.

This video displays the affect of this application on a single of their end users, Danny.

Gamban won a four-12 months agreement to deliver gambling-blocking software program in Norway by way of the monopoly operator (Norsk Tipping). The Norwegian gambling regulator estimates 250,000 consumers engage in on offshore black-marketplace web-sites, with an once-a-year shell out of €200.

Apart from willpower, the only way to realize an powerful exclusion from controlled and black-current market gambling websites is by getting again control and blocking accessibility throughout your devices.

I’m also really pleased I can carry on to get the job done with the Norwegians!

RB: How challenging was it to get substantial organisations like Lloyds Banking Team and gambling market operators on board? 

JS: General, it’s been really difficult. The Lloyds Banking Team was a comparatively modern partnership for Gamban. Since the challenger financial institutions, Monzo and Starling demonstrated the effects of gambling hurt avoidance, the substantial-avenue banking companies stepped up rather swiftly. Gamban has been recognised as a useful layer of security to what banking institutions give as quite a few offshore gambling companies use incorrect merchant codes that allow for these susceptible gamers to gamble.

Performing with the gambling field operators has been complicated. As there is no regulatory pressure for gambling operators to present gambling-blocking software program, partnerships are dependent fully on the switching attitudes of the gambling operators and how our products and solutions can protect their players and the sustainability of their providers and broader sector.

About the very last 3 several years, Gamban has been supplied by some of the major gambling operator teams in the gambling sector, such as Entain, Flutter, Gamesys and Playtech.

RB: Do you have any other higher profile partnerships on the horizon you can mention?

JS: Our most important partnership to day is with GamCare, the top countrywide company of cost-free facts, tips and assist for any person afflicted by dilemma gambling. Funded by the Uk Gambling Commission, this partnership provides the Countrywide On the web Self Exclusion Scheme (GAMSTOP) and gambling-blocking computer software Gamban together through the National Gambling Helpline. By combining these levels of defense, there is more friction in position to decrease the possibility that another person will gamble when they truly feel the urge.

RB: Can you share some financials, amount of staff members, approximate annual turnover and any external expenditure?

JS: There are now 15 folks on the workforce. Even right before the pandemic, we’ve been made use of to performing remotely, with some of our staff in Greece, Latvia, Poland, Pakistan and British isles. 

To date, we’ve brought in £1.8m in angel investment decision. In 2018, our trader, Derek Webb, generously relinquished his equity stake.

We obtained a modest turnover of £18,000 (2017), climbing to £287,000 (2018), £416,000 (2019), ~£2.6m (2020) and future 12 months we foresee ~£5m.

RB: What are your potential designs for Gamban?

JS: We search ahead to setting up on the manufacturer by growing into new marketplaces throughout the world, doing the job with main gamers in the industry, banking companies and governments to help people today get their gambling action below control. It’s our mission to establish gambling-blocking appli
cation that is as good as it can be for conclude-end users, making a constructive change to people’s life.

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