I’m addicted to online gambling

True Stories

A young woman is staring at a laptop screen, looking concerned. She is addicted to online poker. She is wearing a long-sleeve purple shirt and has her hand around her neck. This is a close-up image.

When Jane* started lying to her husband to hide the thousands of pounds of debt she was in, she knew her new-found gambling addiction was controlling her life. Now 24 and pregnant, she talks about how her addiction is threatening her future.

“The money slips away so easily.”

I started gambling on internet poker three years ago when I moved to London. I was unemployed, trying to find work and feeling very isolated. My friends were gambling online so I thought I’d give it a try, but I quickly realised my gambling habits weren’t normal

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 only to blow it all on internet poker, but I just couldn’t stop.

I finally found a job but I still couldn’t kick the habit.I was coming home and playing from 7pm until 2am. 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 wired 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 be on maternity leave soon, but I’m still hoping for that elusive gambling win that will help me 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 blinded by that golden pot at the end of the rainbow. I wish I could play just three times a week, but I don’t have the control. For now, I’m playing for three hours a night and taking baby steps towards recovery.

Trying to stop betting 

Five months ago, I disconnected the internet. It was the only way I could stop gambling and it was blissful. I felt a lot happier without the temptation knocking at my door every two seconds.

I started again a month ago after getting pregnant. The pregnancy forced me 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 always find myself putting in another couple of hundred pounds. Unlike my other vices of drinking and smoking, gambling has had a lasting effect: I’m significantly poorer, with a genuine debt problem.

Lying to cover my tracks 

My husband knows I’ve lost money, but not the exact amounts of money. 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. The catch is I know his password and I’ve been deleting his emails. I recently got rid of 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 them, so he ended up confiscating them.

Collateral damage 

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, 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’t concentrating. Even my friends’ company doesn’t feel as good as gambling online. Friends and family just can’t seem to give me the same happiness that endless hours of online poker does.  

Dangers of internet gambling 

With internet gambling, you can just click a button and money is transferred into your account. But it goes away just as easily. The casinos in Vegas are heavily regulated, but in online casinos anyone can gamble. I’ve heard 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 upwards of £1,000 in a night.

Cutting the cord 

I know I have to stop and the only way is by cutting off my internet connection. If someone is playing obsessively and can’t afford to lose the amounts they’re gambling with, something needs to change. They should reach out and  get treatment and support through gamblers anonymous or similar groups. My aim is to stop gambling and manage my money so I’m debt free before my baby gets here.

If you are struggling with addiction, reach out to our free support service to find a way forward. You can also access help fro gambling here.

*Names have been changed 

Next Steps

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

Tags:

gambling

By Nishika Melwani

Updated on 03-Aug-2021