S Club Jo O’Meara opens up on secret battle with ‘dangerous’ gambling addiction

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S Club 7 star Jo O'Meara opened up about her past struggle with gambling addiction.

The singer, 43, appeared on Thursday morning's instalment (June 23) of Lorraine and spoke candidly to the host about her addiction to fruit machines at the height of her fame.

Speaking in her first TV interview since revealing she had a problem, Jo explained to Lorraine, 62, that she turned to gambling when she was part of the band as a form of escapism.

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"It became a bit of a thing. With the band, it was so busy and so hectic, I just used it as a bit of escapism to run away with myself for a little while," she said.

She added: "I got caught up in the flashing lights and getting the three sevens or leprechauns, or whatever it would be. It was just a bit too much fun."

Lorraine asked whether Jo's former band members were aware of what was happening to her, to which she responded: "Yeah, they did."

"When we used to travel around the county, it was like, ‘Where’s Jo?’ Everyone would know – ‘Oh, she’s on the fruit machines.’ But it was just what I did," Jo continued.

Jo confirmed that none of her band members thought it was problem as she said: "It was just what I did."

The Reach for the Stars singer admitted she never realised she had a problem, saying: "I don’t think I ever did. When I look back I think, ‘I shouldn’t really have been doing that’, because what you learn as you get older is you never win.”

The Celebrity Big Brother star revealed that gambling was never about the money for her, but instead about beating the machines and the excitement of it.

“It was about beating the machine, getting the three sevens, the excitement of that was making me want to do it even more.”

"You never win," she added, before telling Lorraine she made her TV appearance today to "highlight" the problem.

"Iit’s so easy to fall into a very, very dark place… It could happen to anybody. I think there’s still a big stigma to it.

The mum-of-one told the breakfast presenter that she wants to reach out to people and let them know there is no shame in someone asking for help.

"I’ve been there myself, I understand it, there’s no shame in picking the phone up and asking for help'."

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Speaking about how she overcame her addiction, she said: "I thought one day, ‘That’s it, I’m done,' and I've never looked back. I haven’t gambled or even looked at a machine since, but I understand that it's not like that for everybody.

Lorraine couldn't let the pop singer go without mentioning an S Club 7 reunion, asking: "Is it ever going to happen?"

"I don’t know. I really, really don’t know."

"I think if it ever was to happen, I’d definitely be up for doing it. I’m ready to reach for the stars! It’s a case of getting seven bodies all together in the same room, we’re all so busy and it’s pretty full on when it’s S Club 7."


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