The Entrepreneur Who’s Helping Gamblers To Beat Their Addiction

Jack Symons

Jack Symons

Defeating the playing bug Jack Symons

Maria Scard Pictures

Battling any kind of dependancy generally is a daunting process. For Jack Symons the dependancy was playing. Whereas many individuals get pleasure from betting on slot video games, sports activities occasions, and on-line casinos, downside playing is a really actual downside that impacts hundreds of thousands of individuals everywhere in the world. Having tried every thing, from parental controls software program to gambling-blocking software program to curb his exercise, he got here up along with his personal answer Gamban.

Launched in 2016, the expertise behind Gamban blocks entry to any on-line playing throughout all of a buyer’s units. The corporate works with the likes of Lloyds Banking Group in addition to main gamers within the playing trade to assist individuals regain management with out compromising on the advantages of latest expertise.

Symons had beforehand been freelancing as a enterprise improvement advisor for a number of design companies. He’d additionally cofounded video networking startup 85by55, which had began effectively, however following rejection at Y Combinator interview was acquired and reworked into video recruitment software PowerMeeter.

He admits to having gambled on-line from an early age. “At college, not a day glided by after I didn’t play on-line, and on many events, I used to be taking part in as much as 14 hours a day,” he says. “On-line playing is usually a lot simpler to cover than different types of offline playing, so I used to be capable of hold it hidden.”

Then one night time he hit a jackpot, however to withdraw the cash and fulfill the bonus necessities he needed to proceed wagering a major amount of cash. “That night time I used to be taking part in single palms of blackjack and video poker at over £5,000 a hand,” says Symons. “Ultimately I used to be capable of withdraw the funds and had extra money in my checking account than I had ever had earlier than.”

Over time he discovered himself taking part in extra on line casino video games and slots and chasing jackpots. “When you get a style for the swings, the excessive highs, and the low lows, it’s exhausting to return,” he says. “What I used to be doing was in a short time changing into unaffordable and earlier than lengthy I’d misplaced all the cash I had saved.”

Symons had tried to cease many occasions, however with out success, and he realized that what he wanted was to place a barrier between himself and playing as a result of his willpower wasn’t sufficient. He put in parental management software program however rapidly discovered it simple to disable, whereas particular software program that he may set up to dam his playing didn’t work on his MacOS laptop.

He says: “One night my father and I had been speaking about playing and I got here up with the concept of a light-touch, cross-platform software program that blocked entry to nothing however playing. As I used to be nonetheless playing, I wanted this, so I set to work instantly.”

He had discovered fundamental programming and began constructing a prototype for MacOS. The true problem was creating and populating a database of playing websites and apps, however inside two days he had amassed 16,000 playing domains on a spreadsheet.

At this stage, he wanted assist for a few of the different working techniques and located an abroad company to assist the event. Its founder Mavia Siddiqui, his crew, and Symons spent a yr growing the merchandise for various working techniques. On the identical time, he additionally related with Matt Zarb-Cousin, who was engaged on the Marketing campaign for Fairer Playing and combating to cut back the stakes on mounted odds betting terminals from £100 a spin to £2.

“It was clear there was early curiosity from trade to financially assist this venture however we felt it wasn’t the appropriate time to be partnering,” says Symons. “We launched the software program in 2016 with Mac, Home windows, and Android, providing it freed from cost for the subsequent two years whereas we navigated one of the best path to sustainability.”

At this stage, Derek Webb, inventor of 3-Card Poker, philanthropist, and associate within the Marketing campaign for Fairer Playing, turned concerned and went on to financially assist the event of the product and the corporate over the subsequent few years.

As soon as put in, Gamban is designed to be troublesome to take away. “That’s to not say it’s unattainable, however we attempt to discover the appropriate steadiness between intrusion and safety,” says Symons. “We at all times suggest utilizing different boundaries along with gambling-blocking software program, which provides the person an opportunity to suppose between urge and motion.”

Gamban just lately received a four-year contract to offer gambling-blocking software program in Norway via the monopoly operator Norsk Tipping. The Norwegian playing regulator estimates that 250,000 clients play on offshore black-market websites, with an annual spend of €200 million.

The corporate has additionally secured a number of high-profile partnerships, together with with Lloyds Banking Group. “For the reason that challenger banks Monzo and Starling demonstrated the influence of playing hurt prevention, the high-street banks stepped up fairly rapidly,” says Symons.

Gamban can also be provided by a few of the largest playing operator teams within the playing sector, together with Entain, Flutter, Gamesys, and Playtech. Their greatest partnership to this point is with GamCare, a nationwide supplier of free info, recommendation, and assist for anybody affected by downside playing. Funded by the UK Playing Fee, this partnership brings the Nationwide On-line Self Exclusion Scheme (GAMSTOP) and gambling-blocking software program Gamban collectively via the Nationwide Playing Helpline.

As Symons explains, working with the playing trade operators has been advanced. He says: “There isn’t a regulatory strain for playing operators to supply gambling-blocking software program, so partnerships are based mostly solely on the altering attitudes of the playing operators and the way merchandise like Gamban can shield their gamers and the sustainability of their firms and the broader trade.”

Gamban, which employs a crew of 15 individuals, many working remotely in abroad areas, is on observe to show over £2.6 million ($3.5 million) within the present monetary yr, with a goal of £5 million ($6.8 million) for the next yr. Up to now, the corporate has secured £1.8 million in angel funding.

Wanting forward, Symons goals to develop into new international markets and work with main gamers within the trade, banks, and governments to assist individuals get their playing exercise underneath management.

“It’s our mission to construct gambling-blocking software program that’s pretty much as good as it may be for end-users, making a constructive distinction to individuals’s lives,” he says.