S Club 7 star Joe O’Meara opens up about shock addiction that helped her cope with the ‘stress’ of being in the group

To the outside world, S Club 7 was the epitome of pop group perfection, but away from the cameras, one of the stars had a dark secret.

Now for the first time, Jo O’Meara is speaking out about her gambling addiction after years of denying she has a problem.

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The S Club 7 star boldly spoke about her gambling addiction1 credit
She played fruit machines to cope with

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She played fruit machines to cope with “bad things” and the pressure of being an S Club 7 member.1 credit

She became addicted to the “thrill of the chase” by playing fruit machines before S Club 7 shows and used it as a way to avoid the “bad things” in her life.

“I don’t think it was even about the money for me,” Jo, now 43, tells Kristen Bell Tattoos.

“I just put three leprechauns on a fruit machine and I heard a buzz as it goes upstairs and the lights flash.

“All I could think about is what’s going on right there and I don’t have to worry about stressing out bad things, you know.”

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Gambling became part of Jo’s pre-performance ritual as she waited for the train to various locations.

It got out of hand to the point where Jo arrived early so she could get her dose.

“I always got to the station an hour or two early,” Joe explained.

“The press and the band would know where to find me because I played the scene at the station.

“But I didn’t think about it at all. I just got there early, put in a pound, put in another pound.

“Then you’re trying to get £4 and before you know it, you’re like, ‘Wow, I made more money than I should have made here.’

“The Excitement of the Chase”

Joe boldly decided to speak up to celebrate the 25th anniversary of GamCare, a charity that helps people with gambling addiction.

The Don’t Stop Moving star spoke candidly with former England goalkeeper Peter Shilton, who has battled addiction for 45 years, and his wife Steph.

There, Jo admitted that it was the “lust for the chase” that made her keep playing slot machines, and when reports of her problem surfaced, she denied it.

“I was so annoyed that I thought, ‘How dare they say I have an addiction,’” she said.

When asked if she admitted to her gambling addiction at its peak, the star replied, “I don’t think I ever knew, and to be honest, not until recently.”

Jo opened up in the hope that it would help raise awareness of this invisible addiction and how common it is.

She said: “This will be the first time I will talk about my past gambling problems.

“Gambling problems do not discriminate, they can affect anyone, regardless of age, gender or background.

“The problems will only get worse with the use of smartphones and the rising cost of living.”

“Don’t be ashamed to ask, please help me!”

Luckily for Jo, she claims she could stop relatively easily, but is fully aware of how different life could be.

She explained, “I was very lucky, I just said ‘enough’ and I was lucky that I was able to stop.”

For those concerned about gambling, Joe has a simple message: “Give yourself a break.

“There is no shame in picking up the phone and saying, “Please help me!” There is no shame in asking for help.”

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She hopes that those who have overcome addiction will come out of the shadows and emphasize that there is a way out.

Joe said, “If people like us can just put their hands up and say, ‘Look, it’s going to be alright, there’s help out there,’ then that’s just a positive thing to do.”

To learn more visit:GamCare.org.uk

Five warning signs of gambling addiction

IF you’re worried about your loved one’s gambling, read on for some of the telltale signs GamCare advises you to look out for.

1) Closure. Have they stopped talking? Addicts may lose interest in their usual activities or hobbies. Often they choose not to spend time with family or friends, preferring to stay at home, and when they do, they may be constantly checking their phone.

2) Change of mood. Do they behave differently? There may be noticeable changes in their mood and behavior, which may include looking agitated, agitated, or upset for no apparent reason.

3) Sleep problems. Do they always seem tired? Chasing losses and losing money can cause sleep problems. Anxiety or constant worry can cause performances to stay awake at all times. Some players play at night, which can disrupt their sleep.

4) Financial problems. Has money disappeared from bank accounts or are they regularly short of money and in need of loans? This may be a sign. Some feel the need to take out loans to generate income.

5) Lies. Do they lie about what they do with their time? Many feel they have to provide for others. If they hide their gambling habit, they may be afraid that their problem will be discovered and feel very depressed, mistakenly believing that they have let people down.

Do these warning signs apply to your loved one? GamCare operates a national gambling hotline. Free phone 0808 8020 133 or chat via web chat at:www.gamcare.org.uk. They provide information, advice and support to anyone affected by gambling. Consultants are available 24/7, every day of the year.

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