We’re The Machine Zone Community Interest Company. Sounds grand, but it’s just two volunteers, both with experience of extreme addiction, working with others mainly to raise awareness of gambling addiction and harms.

We focus on digital gambling and some particular high risks of this coupled with product design, and industry marketing methods, advertising and sponsorship particular in sport. We’re not remotely ‘anti-gambling’ but believe that urgent and achievable regulation can greatly reduce the damage to thousands of people – including an estimated 400 suicides a year.

Gambling is far from the only aspect of digital technology that we need to attend to. Indeed, some of us may be ‘addicted’ to the technology itself. Social media, hours of scrolling, movies, compulsive shopping and do on. Then there are specific harms to young people. Electronic gambling is one – potentially devastating – form of digital addiction.

Our name, The Machine Zone, is a phrase arising in Las Vegas casinos. It’s the zone that people enter when interacting with gambling machines. In her book we cover here, Natasha Dow Schull describes how in the zone the mechanical rhythm of electronic gambling pulls players into a trancelike state they call the “machine zone” in which daily worries, social demands, and even bodily awareness fade away. Once in the zone, gambling addicts play not to win but simply to keep playing, for as long as possible–even at the cost of physical and economic exhaustion.

Perhaps to some degree everyone can lose themselves in a digital zone of interaction with devices. But for some the loss of self entails behaviours for which the self is not responsible – because the self is no longer there.

Check out our new film One Last Spin

and our sites Gambling Watch Scotland and Glasgow City Gambling Harms which focuses on Glasgow, working with partner organisations there.

Trailer: One Last Spin

Listen to the beautiful song which the wonderful Amanda Lehmann wrote and recorded to go alongside the film and see the video

There’s an interesting tale about how Amanda became interested in gambling harms here. She had never previously thought about it. Now, after the song’s release she continues to campaign to raise awareness. So too does Sylvia Fountain, a presenter at Puritans Radio, who introduced Amanda to the issue.

The music video was produced by COPE Scotland‘s creative artist Mitch. Thak you COPE – for this an all the other support you have given.

We work with many individuals like Amanda and Sylvia and much of what we do is to publicise their work. We play only a small part in awareness raising and have the greatest respect for the many grassroots groups that have grown from individual’s lived experience of gambling harms.