How my former gambling addiction gave me my small business strategy –

Beating an habit is not effortless. For Jack Symons, gambling was his vice. Conquering his dependancy led to him founding his small business, Gamban, a technology that blocks access to any on the internet gambling across all of a customer’s gadgets. 

Now, Gamban operates with the likes of Lloyds Banking Group, as perfectly as massive players in the gambling field – including Flutter – to support people regain management and harmony, with out compromising on the benefits of new technological innovation. How? We spoke to Symons to discover a lot more.

Real Organization (RB): Tell me about your track record, what you had been doing prior to founding Gamban? 

Jack Symons (JS): Right before starting off Gamban, I was freelancing as a organization enhancement marketing consultant for multiple customers. Two of my customers have been layout companies, just one targeted on visible merchandising the other solely electronic.

I was fortunate more than enough to be ready to adhere to my entrepreneurial curiosity though also bringing in ample funds to make ends satisfy. A former movie networking startup I co-started referred to as 85by55 was progressing well but the established-backs proved way too much. Pursuing rejection at Y Combinator interview, our startup was obtained and subsequently remodeled into a movie recruitment resource known as PowerMeeter.

Right after dwelling in Norway for about a 12 months I moved again to the Uk south coastline, even though continuing to perform for a Norwegian client. One particular chilly night in 2014, a log fireplace warmed my relatives home – a thatched cottage by the sea. This speedily turned into a blazing fireplace and everything went up in flames. I ended up shifting a small even more alongside the coastline. 

Go through far more: Affect of the COVID-19 lockdown on on the internet gambling

RB: How major was your gambling exercise? 

JS: I gambled on the internet considering that I was quite young – definitely considering that on line poker was readily available to British isles gamers. At university, not a day went by wherever I did not play on the internet and on lots of instances I was taking part in up to fourteen several hours a working day. On the web gambling is commonly substantially a lot easier to disguise than other sorts of ‘offline’ gambling, so I was equipped to continue to keep it hidden.

Right after the residence-fireplace, while in our rented ‘half-way house’ I was gambling on the internet one particular night time and strike a jackpot. In order to withdraw the cash and satisfy the reward needs, I had to proceed wagering a considerable amount of funds. That night, I was actively playing solitary palms of blackjack and video poker at over £5000 a hand – in some scenarios a lot more.  Eventually, I was capable to withdraw the cash and experienced extra money in my lender account than I had ever experienced ahead of.

About time I identified myself taking part in less poker but much more on line casino games and slots. It was the slots that became the dilemma for me.

Once you get a flavor for the swings – the substantial highs and the reduced lows – it’s hard to go again.

Lesser bets just did not provide the same rush. And poker took way too very long to deliver the strike. What I was undertaking was pretty immediately starting to be unaffordable and just before extended I had missing the money I experienced saved. We frequently listen to about ‘chasing the loss’ – I was chasing the acquire. On numerous occasions I won more compact quantities that I just could not bring myself to withdraw since it wasn’t a jackpot.

I had become a ‘jackpot gambler’ – I was only intrigued in hitting a jackpot, as unlikely as that may well be.

RB: How did you produce Gamban and when was it released? What were being the startup expenditures?

JS: I experimented with to quit so often but each individual time I would locate myself enjoying yet again. I normally experienced an overdraft but that was the limit of my debts. If I experienced just about anything over zero, I would gamble it. 

I necessary some thing to stand in between me and gambling for the reason that my willpower evidently wasn’t plenty of. At this stage I was very organized to downgrade my phone if important but I even now necessary my personal computer.

The initial thing I did was install ‘parental regulate software’. As soon as this was on my laptop I felt an too much to handle perception of accomplishment – I could not gamble even if I desired to. The disadvantage here was that I required to give my father the password or I could simply just override it.

For the to start with couple of weeks this arrangement labored really perfectly but then the application became rather easy for me to disable and also blocked me from web sites that weren’t gambling-relevant, which was irritating. I tried every other obtainable parental manage software program.

I then located particular application I could set up to block myself from gambling. The initially challenge is absolutely nothing would operate on my MacOS laptop. I was instructed to get a Home windows laptop or computer but I didn’t want to alter this as I owned a great deal of application on MacOS which I wouldn’t be in a position to use on Home windows.

I did set up a single of these applications on a spare computer system but I identified it produced the pc unusable and blocked everything remotely to do with gambling, so ‘chips’ like you’d obtain in a cafe would flag as casino currency and for that reason the laptop would freeze up and shut down. Nothing was available on any of the mobile running programs.

A single evening my father and I we were conversing about gambling and I introduced up the strategy of light-weight-touch, cross-system application that blocked obtain to nothing at all but gambling. He encouraged me and reported he assumed it was a fantastic concept.

As I was still gambling, I necessary this – so I acquired to work quickly.


Here’s how Gamban operates

I had been finding out some essential programming and I figured I knew how I would go about making a prototype for MacOS. The tough aspect was generating and populating a database of gambling web-sites and applications. In two times I experienced 16,000 gambling domains on a spreadsheet.

At this issue I understood I’d need to have support on some of the other running units and observed an overseas company to aid the development. The agency founder, Mavia Siddiqui, his crew and I put in just above a calendar year establishing the merchandise for distinctive running units. 

With growth underway, Matt Zarb-Cousin and I related on the internet whilst he was doing work on the Marketing campaign for Fairer Gambling (combating to minimize the stakes on the FOBTs from £100 a spin to £2).

The whole costs up to this point have been about £20,000. It was very clear there was early interest from industry to financially help this task but we felt it was not the suitable time to be partnering.

Mavia, Matt and I ended up itching to launch the software and launched in 2016 with Mac, Windows and Android, featuring the software package absolutely free of cost for the subsequent two decades whilst we navigated the ideal route to sustainability. 

Matt launched inventor of 3-Card Poker, philanthropist and husband or wife in the Marketing campaign for Fairer Gambling, Derek Webb. Derek would go on to monetarily help the growth of the item and the business around the pursuing many years. 

About time, the products and solutions have enhanced drastically – there is a ton of moving areas to gambling-blocking computer software but it is really worth the financial commitment for the beneficial impression the tools have on high quality of existence.

RB: How does Gamban operate and how powerful is it?

JS: Gamban can be set up on Windows, MacOS, iOS and Android products and blocks individuals from accessing gambling internet sites and applications. 

After set up, it’s intended to be tricky to get rid of – which is not to say unattainable but we consider to find the appropriate balance in between intrusion and security. 

In accordance to a 2018 survey, 88% of respondents claimed that they would suggest Gamban as portion of their restoration system. In a separate 2020 study, 83% of respondents said that they uncovered Gamban much more powerful in mixture with other solutions than independently.

We often advocate applying other obstacles in addition to gambling-blocking application. The friction these limitations supply give the particular person a opportunity to imagine concerning urge and motion. All through this time, they can trip out their urge or think all over again in advance of acting on temptation.

In a globe where it is significantly tempting to facilitate speedy gratification as a result of electronic exercise, we want people to be capable to get back control and balance, without having compromising on the rewards of new know-how making use of Gamban they can do that.


This online video reveals the effects of this app on a person of their buyers, Danny.

Gamban won a four-calendar year deal to give gambling-blocking software package in Norway by way of the monopoly operator (Norsk Tipping). The Norwegian gambling regulator estimates 250,000 clients participate in on offshore black-market place websites, with an yearly expend of €200.

Aside from willpower, the only way to reach an productive exclusion from controlled and black-market gambling web-sites is by having back manage and blocking accessibility across your units.

I’m also definitely delighted I can keep on to get the job done with the Norwegians!

RB: How tricky was it to get substantial organisations like Lloyds Banking Group and gambling industry operators on board? 

JS: Overall, it’s been incredibly tricky. The Lloyds Banking Team was a fairly new partnership for Gamban. Due to the fact the challenger banks, Monzo and Starling demonstrated the impact of gambling hurt avoidance, the higher-road financial institutions stepped up very promptly. Gamban has been recognised as a helpful layer of security to what financial institutions present as a lot of offshore gambling corporations use incorrect merchant codes that allow for these vulnerable gamers to gamble.

Working with the gambling field operators has been complicated. As there is no regulatory pressure for gambling operators to give gambling-blocking software, partnerships are dependent entirely on the changing attitudes of the gambling operators and how our items can shield their players and the sustainability of their firms and wider sector.

About the last three many years, Gamban has been available by some of the greatest gambling operator teams in the gambling sector, which includes Entain, Flutter, Gamesys and Playtech.

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

JS: Our major partnership to day is with GamCare, the top countrywide provider of cost-free info, information and guidance for anyone influenced by difficulty gambling. Funded by the British isles Gambling Fee, this partnership delivers the Countrywide Online Self Exclusion Plan (GAMSTOP) and gambling-blocking program Gamban collectively through the National Gambling Helpline. By combining these layers of defense, there is more friction in location to lessen the likelihood that someone will gamble when they experience the urge.

RB: Can you share some financials, variety of workers, approximate yearly turnover and any exterior financial commitment?

JS: There are presently 15 folks on the team. Even before the pandemic, we’ve been made use of to working remotely, with some of our crew in Greece, Latvia, Poland, Pakistan and United kingdom. 

To date, we have brought in £1.8m in angel financial investment. In 2018, our trader, Derek Webb, generously relinquished his fairness stake.

We reached a modest turnover of £18,000 (2017), rising to £287,000 (2018), £416,000 (2019), ~£2.6m (2020) and next 12 months we anticipate ~£5m.

RB: What are your long run strategies for Gamban?

JS: We look ahead to building on the brand by expanding into new marketplaces across the entire world, doing the job with major gamers in the market, banks and governments to support individuals get their gambling activity underneath management. It is our mission to create gambling-blocking computer software that is as great as it can be for conclude-users, creating a good difference to people’s lives.

Share this story