Real Life Gambling Story Number Three - Chris

Chris’s story is all too-common – childhood holidays in seaside resorts with seemingly innocent family trips to amusement arcades.  The lure of the flashing lights and the possibility of winning some money can be irresistible to children, and may also be the start of a life-long gambling habit. This was indeed the case for Chris.

 Chris went on to lose £350,000 in the grip of a gambling addiction that lasted over twenty years.  This is his story, as told to Sarah Marten at Gambling Watch UK.

 “As a child the flashing lights in the seaside arcades intrigued me. Looking back now I can see that my interest in gambling is quite deep-rooted. My Dad didn’t let me play the arcade machines; I just used to watch him enjoying himself. From there I progressed to some bets on the table football in the school common room when I was around 13. We just used to bet small amounts – I don’t think the teachers had any idea about what was going on.”

 On the way home from school Chris used to pass the bookmaker’s, and it wasn’t long before he was removing his school tie and dropping in to place a bet on the horses.

 “I was probably only about 15 at the time, and I think the staff turned a blind eye about my age to be honest. At this stage I had quite a lucrative part-time job, and it wasn’t long before I was spending all my earnings in the bookies. My gambling was starting to become an addiction – all I was interested in was winning money. I came from quite a large family and my Mum was busy working, so she didn’t really notice what was happening to me.

 “At 16 I left school and went out to work. As soon as I received my wages on a Friday I would lose the whole lot on the fruit machines. Once I was old enough to go to pubs my gambling started to escalate, as I began to use the pub machines as well. Losing all this money was making me feel more and more upset, although no-one knew, as I kept everything a secret from my family and friends.

 “I started to realise that my gambling was a problem, but I didn’t really know what to do. Friends started to bail me out - I didn’t even have enough to pay my parents for my keep. At the same time I continued to gamble all my wages.

 “At the age of 17 I managed to get into a casino with someone else’s driving licence and this was the start of a new pattern for me. Nights out starting with the pub, then a club, then the casino. I was playing machines with much larger jackpots, as well as roulette and games of black jack. I’d even make excuses with my employer, phone in sick and then go to the casino instead of going to work. For me, it’s always been the idea of winning large amounts of money that was so appealing. But you always lose far more than you ever win.”

 Chris is clearly a talented businessman and entrepreneur – his earnings have been consistently high and he has set up successful businesses over the years. But he feels his gambling addiction has all but ruined his life. He has come close to losing his home, his livelihood and his life.

 “Gambling addiction has taken so much of my life away. I have learnt so many lessons, but it’s been incredibly traumatic. When I think of all the things I could have had with the money that I earned!  But instead it was wasted through gambling. I do have my own property now, but it’s nothing like the one I would have had if I’d not been addicted to gambling.

 “Gambling is definitely an addiction – it changes you mentally and physically and then brings out the worst in you. Most of my friends know nothing about this side of my life – they wouldn’t believe it if they did know. I have ended up living a lie and have become dangerously close to taking my own life as result. I’ve made so many mistakes and the damage I have done to myself is immeasurable.”

 Chris has found gambling addiction to be degrading and humiliating, and it has led to feelings of intense self-hatred, shame and guilt, as well as many physical symptoms.

 “The stress on my body has led to various physical health problems such as chest pains, insomnia, and dehydration. I put this down to the stress that gambling addiction puts on the body. You end up staying up really late, and trying to work out how to get yourself out of the mess you are in.”

 And for Chris there is no doubt about the type of gambling he has found most addictive – the Fixed Odds Betting Terminals (FOBTs).

 “I have lost £9,000 in less than two hours on the FOBT machines, and around £25,000 in five months. I had the money on my debit card and I just emptied it. I have spent from 9am to 9pm standing in the same spot without water or going to the toilet. I was always trying to win back what I had lost. In reality there were many times I thought there was no way out, but instead of working my way out I borrowed another £10,000 here and there and progressed slowly but surely in gambling terms to a slow death.

 “I have to say that sometimes the staff in the bookies have been kind to me, and one nice staff member told me she couldn’t bear to see me like this (gamblers so easily forget that the staff are human too). I’ve been known to head-butt the machines on occasions. It’s like I became a different person. You are in a different world, in a bubble. And when you use your debit card to pay for the gambling, it doesn’t even really feel like it’s your money you’re spending. You don’t see the banknotes, and so you don’t really relate to it. I truly believe that these machines are fixed, as you lose much more money than you should. But sometimes I’m on such a downward spiral, that I feel I have no choice but to go back in and gamble again.

 “I’ve also become involved in internet gambling after I saw mainstream television advertisements with famous people promoting online bingo or other forms of gambling. I’m not so sure that the famous people care too much about the damage that can be done if the vulnerable follow their guidance.

 “Spread-betting on the internet also led me to lose around £60,000 in three months, at a time when I really thought I had got my gambling under control. It’s so tempting and so easy, and you lose so much. Spread betting is a form of gambling with higher risks, the problem being that the general public who spread bet don’t have the knowhow that the stock market people have. Let’s face it, with recent stock market personnel losing billions in one fell swoop, what chance does this give Mr Joe public? Again this is a way to make the rich richer and the less fortunate penniless!

 “I want our government to listen and to reduce the stakes on FOBT machines. Gambling should be regulated by a completely independent authority and not people who are on the payroll of the big gambling organisations; can you imagine the Chief of Police being on the payroll of a drugs cartel? There should also be more government funding for treatment programmes.

 “The government has to stand up and be counted, they put us in this conundrum when they allowed the FOBT’s many years ago into our lives – they now need to control this. It’s not the losing that’s the biggest problem; it’s the amounts that you can win. This needs to be reduced by far to save the next generation of gamblers coming through; these gamblers may not be as lucky as me in their survival to fulfil their own goals in life.”

 Chris’s experiences have motivated him to make a difference and to hopefully prevent others from taking the same path as him.

 “I’m now trying to channel my energies in a positive way. Gambling has robbed me of my energy and happiness in my life and I’m now claiming this back by working with and not against my self-beliefs. There are no short cuts in this life - work hard and you will be rewarded.”

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  • Terry. Permalink

    Been around on this planet for 70 yrs come next Feb..been gambling since my schooldays..When I think back on my life,I could cry...what a waste!...chasing rainbows all my days,looking for that big win!...not realising I had the big win all the time...my life,my family,my friends,...no! The lure of gambling came first...what an arsehole I was..i cringe thinking back to all the "strokes" I pulled to get money to gamble...the lies,the deceit,stealing,...my poor parents...then my wife..and yes my kids as well...gambling had a vice like grip on me...money lenders,pawn shops,ducking&diving,living on your wits, and being totally oblivious to the carnage and damage you left in your wake,on the quest to get cash to gamble...My life was a total car crash...a nightmare...hopeless case...I was 45 yrs old..up to my eyeballs in debt,wife& 4 kids...worked all my days and had nothing to show for it,me and my family were just existing...I had exhausted every possible avenue to satisfy my lust for gambling..it was Xmas 1992...I was fortunate to get a loan from the Provident to get the kids Xmas presents...Went for a beer to the local boozer,bumped into an old guy I had worked with years previously....I remember he liked a bet or two....still gambling Terry ? He asked,.yea i said .ive done my brains for years at the game...he said i chucked it yrs ago...I said how did you manage that?...he said well...I sat down one night,and I mentally roughly worked out how much I had lost gambling...it was frightening!...then he said,I tried to think of ONE person I knew that had won....gambling...he said I know thousands of gamblers,and I couldn't come up with ONE name....he then said no doubt there are people who win,but that only draws you in further,,so ineffect he said...Gambling is an illusion....the win is a "sprakle "to catch the whale...after that their are only "victims" ..he said,to get your life back on track,you MUST lose the gamblers mentality,and learn to think beyond tomorrow,their is a big world out there,if we as gamblers put all our energy into improving our lives,as we did in our quest to get money to gamble,in a very short space of time,our lives will be transformed...I then said to him did you go to GA ?....no he replied...not that I didn't think about it....but I base my life on this principle.."No matter how bad things are....gambling will only make it worse"...THAT. last quote really got me thinking.....on 1st Jan 1993...I made a resolution to stop gambling......it was hard...really hard at first...but I kept telling myself that quote..."No matter how bad things are....Gambling will only make it worse"...I ain't a holy joe or anything,but gambling can be a real curse,especially nowadays with online casinos,and those FOBTS they are all talking about in the local "shovels".....far too easy nowadays to get sucked in to the illusion...

    about 3 months ago
  • Vinny Permalink

    I also lived a secret life of gambling...lost every hard earned penny...even manged to do this without my wife knowing...borrowed from my friends....struggled to pay back on time...etc etc...in the end after many many years i got caught .....i thought my world had ended...it nearlly did....told my wife everthing....worst night ever......she stuck by me and has been my rock.....all the time winning big was my goal.....and guess what...i won 114k in one night...youd think i stopped but i ended up gambling every single penny....feeling sick is an understatement....i went to counselling for 12 weeks via a site from GA...gave my wife total control of finances......its been a tough and difficult road.....3 months through the journey...and not gambled.....gambling is an addiction and an illness...get help its out there...dont give up...

    about 3 months ago
  • Ayo Permalink

    My life is absolutely shambles, coming from African background I have tasted poverty and have always been a hard working fella,but there's nothing to show for it .for the past ten years I have worked every single day can count days I have been off work ,no holidays and yet I still live a misery life .no house no car ,caused a lot of pains to my family ,my life is full of lies and deception no friends no social life ,just sad all caused by gambling ,I curse the day a friend introduced me to this habit that have caused me so much pain ,
    When I look back at my past life full of potentials doing so well ,had more than 150k pounds in my account live in a flat ,aspiring to greater things and all crash with a single bet in a casino and I got addicted thought I could become millionaire by playing baccarat, first night I Won 8k and I lost interest in working hard and going to casino became a habit,second night I lost the 8k I won previously, and the losing streak began ,in two months I lost all my savings couldn't pay my rent ,was ejected from my flat and it became worst ,started borrowing from friends hoping to win big and repay but all is illusion, working every single day to feed my gambling habit ,everything I make a decision to quit ,it get worse I need help ,right now all I think about is to end it all ,but I know I can be better than this but how can I come off this habit ,the government is making it worse there are gambling shops and casino everywhere you look .you open your tablet gaming sites pop up,you check your email they are right in urban face enticing you with one promotion and bonuses .I have been a big disappoint to my wife and two kids ..I need help fast

    about 3 months ago
  • Alan Permalink

    People who are in trouble please get yourself to a GA meeting ASAP, I tried psychiatrists, doctors, hypnotists, self exclusion, the ONLY thing that worked was GA, it saved my life, my family's life, I wake up every day with a deep desire not to place a bet, a day at a time you can arrest this illness.

    about 3 months ago
  • Diane Permalink

    My husband is a CG but still in denial of what is happening, he works away but no longer gives me any money making excuses arguing with me and now not coming home. I am so devistated and I am finding it difficult to carry on my everyday life , going to work, but I know I have to to try and pay the bills. This of couse I'd affecting my daughter,how can I forgive a lying abusive man who only thinks about his next bet. It is the families of CG that suffer, even though he spends his entire wage gambling banks still give him loans, what can I do

    about 3 months ago
  • Gary Permalink

    Hi, I am really struggling! I am 33 and have been gambling for 2 years.

    I earn 70k a year, own my house with lots of equity, have a great wife and child, 17k in savings and a great job.

    You would think that all is great however I am obsessed with online football betting, I have lost 3k in 2 years. To some this might not sound like a huge amount but the problem is I can not stop! I recently placed a £500 bet and lost! My thoughts are to dip in to our savings account to win it back!!!

    My wife has no idea about my addiction and I feel awful for do it. I am worried that I will dip more in to savings to win back my losses!

    Please help me stop!

    about 3 months ago
  • greg Permalink

    I am at rock bottom at the moment. I started gambling on and off 15 years ago whilst working at a motorway service station that had 500 pound slots. i was employed as a cleaner and used to play the slots on automatic whilst vaccuming round the game zone. Worst decision i ever made really. most i ever won was a thousand last year so i bought a motorbike and that was supposed to be the last time i gambled i told myself. three months later and i have sold the bike. money back in the machines. left a driving job after nine years last november as i was gambling at the services whilst out delivering. the bosses knew as i had a tracker fitted but that would not stop me. i was addicted. they were good with me and offered support but i left as i wanted to go on good terms as i knew i was ballsing things up. got another similar job and was determined for a fresh start but the the lure of the 500 pound slots has seen me pulling in for breaks and taking more risks....Cant afford to lose or leave this job though. Felt utter shame today as i phoned my dear mother to tell her the 60th birthday card with money inside would not be arriving through the post. Horrible feeling. Thought i was smarter than this. Anyway i have made a decision to beat this addiction. It cant drag me down any lower than i feel today. I have a fight on my hands i know but i am determined that it will not destroy me. Good Luck to you all out there.

    about 2 months ago
  • Ben victor Permalink

    I have lost about 50 k in the past 6 months due to online roulette mainly. It all started from poker and a football bet which won. Ever since then I have been stopping for a week or so then something happens in my life which makes me gamble . I need help am lucky I haven't lost everything but can't stop thinking about what I have lost .

    about 3 weeks ago
  • Ryan Permalink

    41, been gambling for 15 years. Now 70k in debt although have a good job. Everything right now on the precipice. Beautiful partner, two going children and one on the way and lot to live for. I cannot describe the unimaginable despair, hell, depression, actual physical pain, helplessness and utter horrific feeling of abandonment of losing when gambling. Its truly horrific yet the addiction wants more from you. Gambling is the definition of hell. It is literally hell on earth. Last chance.

    about 1 week ago

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Friday, April 28, 2017
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