S Club 7 Star Jo O'Meara Opens Up About Past Struggles With Gambling Addiction

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Jo O'Meara speaks to Lorraine Kelly (Photo: Ken McKay/ITV/Shutterstock)
Jo O'Meara speaks to Lorraine Kelly (Photo: Ken McKay/ITV/Shutterstock)

Jo O'Meara speaks to Lorraine Kelly (Photo: Ken McKay/ITV/Shutterstock)

Former S Club 7 singer Jo O’Meara has opened up about her past struggles with gambling addiction.

Speaking on Thursday’s edition of Lorraine, Jo shared that playing on fruit machines provided some “escapism” for her during her “hectic” time in the chart-topping pop group.

“It became a bit of a thing,” she said. “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. 

“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.”

Jo revealed that her bandmates were aware of the issue at the time, saying: “When we used to travel around the county, it was like, ‘Where’s Jo?’. Everyone would know, ‘oh, she’s on the fruit machine’. But it was just what I 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.”

Jo with her S Club 7 bandmates at the height of the group's success (Photo: Tim Roney via Getty Images)
Jo with her S Club 7 bandmates at the height of the group's success (Photo: Tim Roney via Getty Images)

Jo with her S Club 7 bandmates at the height of the group's success (Photo: Tim Roney via Getty Images)

(Photo: Tim Roney via Getty Images)
(Photo: Tim Roney via Getty Images)

(Photo: Tim Roney via Getty Images)

Jo also told Lorraine gambling was more about a thrill for her than the prospect of winning money, explaining: “It was about beating the machine, getting the three sevens, the excitement of that was making me want to do it even more.

″[But] you never win – that’s why I’m here today, to highlight it because it’s everywhere.”

Discussing the issue of online gambling today, Jo said: “When you’re pressing a button, it’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, where people associate gambling with a man sitting in a betting place or a poker table. It’s not the case at all. It’s happening a lot more than it has before.

“I wanted to reach out to people and say, ‘I’ve been there myself, I understand it, there’s no shame in picking the phone up and asking for help’.”

Jo and Lorraine discuss the singer's past struggles with gambling addiction (Photo: Ken McKay/ITV/Shutterstock)
Jo and Lorraine discuss the singer's past struggles with gambling addiction (Photo: Ken McKay/ITV/Shutterstock)

Jo and Lorraine discuss the singer's past struggles with gambling addiction (Photo: Ken McKay/ITV/Shutterstock)

“I thought one day, ‘That’s it, I’m done,’” she added. “I haven’t looked at a machine once [since], but I understand it’s not like that for everybody. You do get caught up in it. But there’s help there.”

At the end of the interview, Lorraine asked whether an S Club 7 reunion would ever be on the cards, with Jo admitting: “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.”

S Club 7 debuted in 1999 with Bring It All Back, and enjoyed three four UK number ones before their split in 2003.

Following this, Jo released her solo album Relentless in 2005, and subsequently made an appearance on Celebrity Big Brother, during which she faced a heavy backlash, alongside fellow housemates Jade Goody, Danielle Lloyd and Jack Tweedy, for their treatment of Bollywood star Shilpa Shetty.

After S Club 7 reformed for a reunion tour in 2015, Jo relaunched her solo career in 2021.

Lorraine airs every weekday from 9am on ITV.

For more information about gambling addiction contact GamCare’s website or call the National Gambling Helpline on 0808 8020 133).

This article originally appeared on HuffPost UK and has been updated.

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