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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Comments (153)

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  • Clara Permalink

    Ive been involved with a compulsive gambler...
    He started by asking for money for tickets to come see me ..never got the cash back
    It went on ...he had a good job
    he's great at what he does ...but his wages were gone 2 hours after recieving them ...
    he borrowed loads from me always saying i would have the money back....he was so sorry everytime ....but he stopped crying after a while and went cold and numb instead...he stated stealing from me sentimental stuff was pawned ...ovrer and over he would confess in stages ...and i would buy back my felt that there was a good valuble person inside him...i desperatly wanted to help and kept showing him information about this mental illness... which it definately is ...he got worse ...lied the most brilliant lies ... took more risks ...stole items from his work place and money too....he is now out of control is the most horrible thing i have ever come see a highly intelligent young skilled boy...become a self destructive unfeeling mad man ...he has cheated with me now and will be a father soon....for someone else ...he believes this may be his salvation may kick start something ..i dont know ....but ...
    .i feel so angry that gambling is everywhere and seen as an acceptable form of was always revolting to me that people go and throw money away for fun ?!? what kind of person thinks this is ok ??? ...i have lived in 3rd world ...and know a little money can do a lot of good ....but now i see it is not a sensible comes from wanting and needing to feel like someone important ...someone...special ...gifted by all...powerful...on control....but the total opposite is the truth...
    even guys who stop gambling still show off about it ...they still need to feel important and marvelous...
    if you could go back to your may see a point where you were totally powerless ...felt weak and unloved....this is the hole that gambling fills ....except it just makes it bigger ....everyone out there ...please get the psycological help you need heel the past ...realise you are amazing ...even without anything money home etc. to show for are human...not a fantastic winner...just a struggling human...there is nothing to be ashamed off in that ....

    about 1 year ago
  • Andrew Permalink

    Hi my name is Andrew Andreou am about to start at Gordon moody gamblining therapy on Monday , fobt has destroyed my life it has took my soul I couldn’t get away from these evil things I was like drug addict on fobt I lost over 600 thousand pounds on these evil fobt , businesses relationships lost , its very addictive I need help , it’s a decgrace to this nation that they allow fobts in our day to day society!

    about 1 year ago
  • Kev Permalink

    Have been a gambling addict for nearly 40 years, recently gone into remission, finally at 55 years of age am tired of the misery and depression it brings, have had the highest of highs and the lowest of lows. What started as a teen playing slots and stealing to fund the habit, to kicking that and moving on to horses,from being pretty much in control, to losing the plot on FOBTs for 10 years and progressing to having online accounts with every online bookmaker you can think of, losing 5000 in a session on online casinos was a regular occurance.
    Have lived my entire adult life in debt, cant remember last time i didnt have loan out, biggest loan i had was 12000, just for gambling.
    10 years ago i helped an old guy who put an article in our local paper, his son had commited suicide over gambling debts, i helped him set up a GA group in York {our nearest one was in Leeds).On our first night with help from the guy running the Leeds group we invited a guy from Gamcare, he came along and i expressed all my concerns over FOBTs, about the youth coming along into this mind numbing addiction, 10 years on and the government is still in denial,
    Needless to say GA didnt really do it for me, over 40 years ive lost at least a quarter of a million pounds (a very conservative estimate). So why stop now? Well i now watch my son who is 30 next month living a mirror image of my life, from going to prison at 22 as i did, to his addiction to gambling only he has taken it even further, hes betting far bigger than i ever did, its scary the amount he puts on, he has a son of 2, I am determined to stop myself then work on my son for the sake of my grandson.
    There is so much more to life, am currently in a mental health theraoy grouo for depression, to try and find my old seif again, there is hope and help out there.

    about 1 year ago
  • FLORIN Permalink

    Nobody can stop you,only you,i was nationally banned in all casinos,i take fake id to go back in and since lose another 100k,i wish i stopped when i was baned...

    about 1 year ago
  • Sarah Permalink

    Surely nothing good comes out of betting. I have been betting on baccarat but I have lost thousands of dollars. The problem is every time you win you end up staking much higher and all your money is gone within seconds which is your hard earned money. I even have spent my whole salary minutes after receiving it and gone further to borrow so as to continue trying to recover my losses. Surely I have to stop since it is really impacting negatively in my life and family life.
    This betting companies have to be checked by the government and should pay taxes of over 70% so that they exit from fleecing people their money.

    about 1 year ago
  • Zakhele Permalink

    Gambling is unhealthy ive learnt it too. Ive accepted that ive lost some money yet il still make other incomes but im not going back. Do likewise dont go back again.

    about 1 year ago
  • I have gone through the comments here.

    I can relate to so many people in this thread.

    I have had a gambling obsession for the past 10 years or so. I have lost so much money and many beautiful relationships.

    I have stolen and lied and have repeatedly broken the trust of family members and those that genuinely have cared for me.

    I was bailed out very recently by a very close friend. This Friday, I am due to pay her back in FULL and I will have some money left over. I am already thinking about what numbers I am going to cover and with how much.

    I sometimes feel as though I am cursed and that someone has put some kind of ill omen on me to make sure that I am never happy but ultimately, I full heartedly know that all the misfortune that I have experienced is down to my own ignorance and is completely my fault.

    I have lost the love of my life and I have lost many close friends that have ALL cut me off due to my compulsive lying and the distorted truth that I would make up in order to get my fix of gambling.

    It is that moment between putting the chips down and winning the money that exhilarates me.

    May Allah bless us all and allow us to overcome this sinister filthy habit that will ultimately cause us a lot more grievance than happiness.

    God bless you all.

    F A

    about 1 year ago
  • someone from london Permalink

    I did some spread-betting from time to time. I made some good money but at the end I lost all and plus some more. For example, yesterday I lost £6500 (fortnight salary) betting on Facebook and Twitter stocks through my spread-betting account. My personal and professional advice is to stay away from these casino like trading activities as well. So addictive and will your pockets empty at the end. Thanks God I realized it just on time.

    about 1 year ago
  • Hero Permalink

    Been a compulsive gambler for 13 years.

    NOTHING good has come out of it. Won a lot ..nearly everyday..but guess what? It ALWAYS goes back in the bookies. My friends are like "spend it, go holiday" etc but a compulsive gambler doesnt see money as spending, only going back in the bookies pockets.

    I have now banned myself from all local casino and bookmakers. If anyone is struggling with their local shops. Please ring the MOSES team on 08002942060. All you do is ring them and provide them with a post code of the bookmaker and you will be banned from going there.

    If you play online, I recommend GAMSTOP once you sign up to them you will be unable to bet online with regulated UK casinos as all bookies and casinos in the UK must be registered with GAMSTOP.

    if you need any personal help or someone to talk to you can email me anytime at

    If it helps.

    Its never just ONE bet. Its like an alcoholic saying i will only have one sip and then relax. We all know thats a lie and he will carry on drinking. My advice is NO STAKES. not even a penny. Not a single bet. Its that one bet that will ruin you all over again.

    There is only ONE clear 100% guaranteed way of beating the bookies. Dont walk in

    about 2 months ago
  • Noel Higginbottom In reply to: # 737 Permalink

    Hi hero ,
    Well done for kicking the habit and I also have registered with Gamstop, however they haven't stopped the new breed of telephone bookies , whereby in 5 mins you have an account and you bet with your debit card !
    So for me the only way is that ALL uk Bookies MUST join Gamstop before accepting bets



    about 2 months ago

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Friday, October 18, 2019
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