QuitGamble.com is a web platform and mobile app that offers support and counseling for people with problem gambling. It’s also a growing community of 400-plus members, where people can discuss their problems and share their stories.
Its founder, Anders Bergman, says he wanted to create a platform that tackles addiction using modern mobile technology, offering an alternative to traditional support groups.
But what makes Bergman different is that he previously ran his own online gambling business.
The 37-year-old Swede tells Casino.org he always wanted to change the world for the better, but he didn’t quite know how. He just knew he needed money to do it. And that’s how he ended up working in the online gambling industry in Malta.
Bergman’s younger brother, Erik, had made a big splash in the affiliate sector and suggested Anders try his luck.
“It’s fun, it’s easy money,” Erik promised.
Stop the Train
But life in Europe’s primary online gambling hub wasn’t all it was cracked up to be. Bergman launched his own affiliate company in 2014 and worked hell for leather for four years. By 2018, he was burned out.
“It did OK,” the relaxed, chatty, workaholic told Casino.org via Zoom. “But I wouldn’t call it easy money. It was a stress, a hassle. My workforce got the salary, but I got the losses.
“In 2018, I worked 300 hours a month, lost a lot of money, and I felt like I was driving my train into a wall. So, I stopped the train. I’d had enough.”
On the plane home to Sweden, Bergman wondered what he would do next. A friend and traveling companion gave him the answer.
“He said you should do something for people with [gambling] problems instead. And that sparked something in me because I had never thought about it before.
In my previous business, you wouldn’t see the people who are affected by gambling,” Bergman says. “You might see a code for someone gambling, but you don’t know if it’s a man, a woman, if they’re in Germany or the UK. You just want that number to be as high as possible.
“So, around Christmas 2018, I started thinking about what I could do for people instead. I had a knowledge of the industry that many people working in problem gambling don’t have.”
Bergman was inspired by British-Swiss writer and journalist Johann Hari, who has written extensively about drug addiction. But it was a 2015 TED talk by Hari titled Everything you think you know about addiction is wrong that particularly caught his attention.
“He said the opposite of addiction is not sobriety, it’s ‘reconnection,’” Bergman says. “And that struck a chord with me.”
Bergman studied hard and began to feel that people become addicted to escape from reality. Most of us have pain of some kind, whether it’s stress, or loneliness, or boredom, low self-esteem, or even physical pain. Pain is the cause of addiction, according to Bergman, and addiction is a defense mechanism that helps us hide pain.
What happens when you gamble?” he asks. “Is it creating a moment of peace, time when nothing else matters? Perhaps that’s why it’s so hard to quit. Instead of talking about the consequences of gambling for an individual, I’m trying to understand what it does for the individual. Something happens in the moment you gamble. It all starts there.
“I have built different modules, video courses, targeting different kinds of pain that might lead people to addiction. Some people gamble because they’re lonely,” continues Bergman. “But many also don’t feel lonely, there are other reasons. And then loneliness may be just one factor – there may be other things that you need to work on. But if we can target one at a time, I believe we can actually help people free themselves from their addiction.
“You can look at support groups and there are people there who say they have been gambling on and off for 40 years, or people who have not gambled for years but say they are still gambling addicts, which means they’re not free. But if we can target these areas that currently cause pain, we can create happier people and happier people are more resistant to addiction.”
Casino.org wonders whether, on some level, guilt played a part in Bergman’s desire to create QuitGamble. But he insists he has no negative feelings towards the gambling industry.
“Absolutely not. I still believe in personal responsibility,” he says. “Naturally, I don’t like the idea of gambling companies targeting those they know are weak. I tried my best when I worked in the gambling industry. I tried to create a website with the best information and to be as honest as I could.”
Bergman says his primary goal is not to make money from the app, which is largely self-funded, but first to conquer problem gambling. Then he wants to use the tool to tackle other forms of addiction.
Because he came from the industry, “gambling was just a good place to start,” he says.
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