Karl shares his story of gambling addiction and his recovery journey so far.
My gambling journey started in 2015 when I had a cycling accident and broke my shoulder and my collarbone. Unfortunately, due to the nature of my injury I was unable to wear a cast so I spent the next 4 months off work and was told to stay as still as possible, which was challenging to say the least. At the same time, my wife and I had been undergoing IVF to have a family which is not only heartbreaking, but very costly.
During my time off I surfed the internet on ways to make money and stumbled across a matched betting website which explained how to turn free bets into cash. I tried it out, it worked, and turned out to be a great source of income which helped us out a lot.
There was no problem with the matched betting itself, but what it does not explain, was how I would become greedy and try non risk-free betting to make fast money in the form of in-play lay betting. Lay betting is where you outlay far higher stakes to win a smaller amount of money. An example would be to risk, say £400 of my own money to win £50 at odds of 8/1 on an under 4.5 goals in a certain game e.g. Barcelona versus a lowly placed team in La Liga. In theory, Barcelona will score goals for fun and the longer it took them to score, the more my chances of winning a possible £50, or I could trade out for a smaller amount. However, I became greedy and wanted the big win. I had a 15 minute shower and when I came out Barcelona were 4 nil up, so trading out in order to not lose all of the money was my only choice and at that point it was all about damage limitation so I lost £350 on one bet.
I have been doing non risk-free betting for around 4 years and there have been some highs and some lows. Whilst I was betting, I became secretive, a liar and very evasive to cover my tracks so my wife was oblivious to my addiction. I told my wife that I was only doing it to try to earn some extra money for the IVF and that this would relieve our financial pressure. I was rather silly to think I could use this as extra income as I was constantly betting, and it was only a matter of time before I would lose big and start to chase my losses. I became very irritable with people, shut myself away from the world and stopped doing the things I enjoyed in life. Gambling controls you, becomes your mistress, and destroys everything around you.
All things came to a head when I had a big loss on a tennis match. I confessed everything to my wife and said I was going out in my car to kill myself on a text message. My wife was frantic, and I ignored her as I selfishly thought as she loves me so much she would rush to my aid. The next thing that happened was my wife showed the life-threatening text to my GP and I received a call straight away.
I was referred to counselling and my medication was reviewed, but this was not much help in the short term. That’s when I discovered GamCare. I was referred to a kind and helpful lady who agreed to share a twelve-week journey and look at ways to control my gambling. She advised me on how to use distraction techniques, keep a diary of tasks not related to gambling, going on the forums to share my experiences with others, listening to seminars on YouTube, acting on my interests such as reading, DIY or the gym and visiting friends or family. She helped me no end and was my guardian angel throughout my journey – I cannot thank her enough. All GamCare staff would probably say it is their job, but I believe they personalise it to each individual and care so much about what gamblers go through.
Am I cured? I would say not 100% but I have the tools in my arsenal to get to my end goal. I have signed up to Gamban and have banned myself on all my devices going forward.
Thank you GamCare.
If you’re experiencing feelings similar to those Karl mentions, we can help. As a GamCare partner agency, we provide free therapy for those affected by problem gambling. Please reach us here, or to find out more about help available to you, click here.
If you need someone to talk to right now, please contact The National Gambling Helpline which is free and available 24/7 via phone or live chat 0808 80 20 133.
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