I’m addicted to online gambling

When Jane* started lying to her husband to hide the thousands of pounds of debt she was in, she knew her addiction to internet poker was out of control. Now 24 and pregnant, she talks about how her addiction is threatening her future.

True Stories

woman online

"The money slips away so easily."

I started playing internet poker three years ago when I moved to London. I was unemployed, trying to find work and felt very secluded with a lot of time on my hands. My friends were gambling online so I thought I’d give it a try, but I quickly realised my gambling was out of control. My husband’s a teacher and money was tight. Even though we only had £20 a week for food, I was spending £100 a day gambling on my credit card while he was at work. I knew it was wrong to beg him for money whilst spending so much on internet poker, but I just couldn’t stop.

I finally found a job but I was coming home and playing from 7pm until two in the morning. My husband would be watching television, while I was sitting next to him gambling. If I’d had a busy or horrible day, gambling seemed like an easy way to switch off, except I’d end up more worked up than when I’d started.

Heavy losses

I’ve lost about £8,000 over three years, all on credit cards. I’m three months pregnant and will soon be stopping work, but I’m still hoping for an illusive gambling win that will enable me to buy everything I want. It’s really difficult for me to give up the idea that I’m going to get rich from gambling, rather than saving and clearing my debts. I’m dazzled by that golden pot of money. If I could just play three times a week I’d be happy, but I don’t have the control. Now, I’m playing for three hours a night, which for me is quite restrained.

Trying to stop

Five months ago, I disconnected the internet. It was the only way I could stop gambling and it was blissful. Not having the temptation there made me feel a lot happier.

I started again a month ago after getting pregnant. I had to give up cigarettes and alcohol, and since I often played drunk, I thought playing sober would help me control how much I was spending. I’ve tried to regulate the amount, keeping it to £50 a month, but I constantly slip up and find myself putting in another couple of hundred pounds. Unlike my other vices of drinking and smoking, gambling has had a lasting effect, leaving me significantly poorer, with a genuine debt problem.

Lying to cover my tracks

My husband knows I’ve lost money but not how much. In an effort to curb my gambling, he set up my online gambling account so each time I deposit or withdraw money, he’s notified via email. However, I know his password and to cover how much I’m spending, I’ve been deleting his emails. I recently deleted a series of emails from his inbox in the early hours of the morning, which showed I’d lost £600 in nine hours of solid gambling. He found out when he borrowed my cash cards to get some shopping and discovered there was no money on either, so he ended up confiscating them.

Terrible mood swings

It’s not just losing money which has had a negative effect on my life. My gambling mood swings are awful. If I’ve just won a big hand, I’m in a good mood and really nice, but if I’ve had a bit of bad luck or played badly, I can be a real asshole to my husband. I take it out on him and go from being really happy to being really down, which is very unpleasant for him and puts a strain on our relationship.

My career and friendships have also suffered because of gambling. I’d stay up until three in the morning and then drag myself into work exhausted. For a while I worked from home, but I found myself playing poker instead of working. I was detached and couldn’t concentrate. None of my friends’ company is as good as gambling online.

Dangers of internet gambling

With internet gambling, you can just click a button and money is transferred into your account, but the money slips away really quickly. The world of live gambling is heavily regulated, but online anyone can gamble. I know of 15 year-olds who play on their dads’ accounts. It’s really easy to bet with money you can’t see, and you can lose £1,000 in a night.

Breaking free

I know I have to stop and the only way is by disconnecting the internet again. If someone is playing obsessively and can’t afford to lose the amounts they’re gambling with, they should try to stop and get help. I hope I can stop gambling and manage my money so I’m debt free before my baby arrives.

Next Steps

  • GamCare provides advice and support to users coping with gambling addictions. Call GamCare's free helpline on 0808 8020 133.
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  • Need help but confused where to go locally? Download our StepFinder iPhone app to find local support services quickly.

Tags:

gambling

By Marcella Carnevale

Updated on 29-Sep-2015

Photo of woman online by Shutterstock