Jo O'Meara was addicted to playing fruit machines during S Club 7 days
Jo O’Meara has told how she was addicted to playing fruit machines when she was in S Club 7.
The singer, 43, opened up about her gambling problem on ITV’s Lorraine, revealing when she used to travel with the group she often sought out machines to play.
It was a “bit of escapism” for her, she said.
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“It became a bit of a thing,” O’Meara told host Lorraine Kelly.
“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 went on: “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.”
Kelly asked if the rest of S Club 7 knew what was happening.
“Yeah, they did,” said the star.
“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.”
The singer said gambling wasn’t about money, but the excitement of playing the machines.
“It was about beating the machine, getting the three sevens, the excitement of that was making me want to do it even more,” she said.
Kelly asked if she ever won and she replied: “You never win… that’s why I’m here today, to highlight it because it’s everywhere.”
The star said she also felt people associate gambling with men sitting in betting shops or at poker tables and that that’s not always the case.
Talking about how easy it is to gamble with mobile phones, she explained: “It’s not real money is it? When you’re pressing a button, it’s so easy to fall into a very, very dark place…”
“There’s no shame in picking the phone up and asking for help,” she said.
O’Meara said she just thought one day, “That’s it, I’m done” and that she hasn’t looked at a fruit machine since.
“But I understand it’s not like that for everybody,” she said. “You do get caught up in it. But there’s help there.”
The star also spoke about S Club 7, saying she’d be “up for” a reunion with her bandmates Tina Barrett, Paul Cattermole, Rachel Stevens, Jon Lee, Bradley McIntosh and Hannah Spearitt.
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“I’m ready to reach for the stars!” she said, referring to the group’s 2000 hit, ‘Reach’.
“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.”
Lorraine airs weekdays at 9am on ITV and ITV Hub.
Watch: Rachel Stevens answers tricky S Club 7 trivia