Gambling Addiction Stories You Should Read Before Betting Online
Gambling Addiction Stories You Should Read Before Betting Online
Gambling addiction stories tell us a lot about how dangerous gambling can be. It may start with the purchase of a weekly lottery ticket and escalate to online sports betting. It can grow from there to regular trips to the nearest casino. Sure, at first it’s all fun and games. You win some, you lose some. Then something inside of you flips on like a light switch and you start to crave being at the casino. The sounds, the lights, the thrill of hitting a bonus round, and the potential of spinning the reels just right to reward you with that prize that will change your life forever - a huge jackpot. Sadly, for many gamblers, their gambling addiction story doesn’t end with a huge jackpot but most certainly contains that life-changing element known as debt and despair. In this article, we will look at several gambling addiction stories from people who represent all walks of life who never intended to get caught up in such a mess…but somehow did.
“Table games never interested me. Slot machines, on the other hand, allowed me to enter a trance that was fully mine to experience.”
Andy’s story centers on Las Vegas. While living in New York, he would travel to The Strip once or twice a year just to gamble. He was first “hooked” during a vacation in Vegas in 2007 when he made his first-ever slot machine bet. Even after moving to Seattle in 2010, Andy would take the odd weekend trip to the slots in Las Vegas. How hooked was he?
“Whenever I flew to Vegas, I packed a carry-on suitcase full of snacks. After all, why spend time away from the gambling floor - or chip away at my modest $400 three-day gambling budget - by eating at restaurants? That budget, by the way, never made it past the first night. Once it was gone, I was off to the ATM without a second thought.”
Then Andy was offered a job in Las Vegas in April 2012. By day he worked as an onsite health coach in his first full-time nutrition job. By night, he would be home - alone. With no social life, Andy chose to go where he felt most comfortable, the Vegas Strip and the bells and whistles of a casino. It started as an occasional two hours of “gambling fun” on weekend afternoons. It soon turned into weekly eight to twelve-hour marathons. This is not unusual in gambling addiction stories.
“I vividly remember my first extended gambling stint as a resident of Las Vegas, roughly six weeks after arriving. My checking account had $2,000 when I walked into the casino at five o'clock on a Friday afternoon and $200 when I walked out at two in the morning - the first of hundreds of walks of shame to my car.”
Andy kept going to the casinos to play slots and soon found that the forty-cent slot bet was not as thrilling as it once was. So, he started increasing the bet size. But soon, the $1.20 bet spin was no longer exciting. Soon, he was betting four dollars - the max bet - per spin. Once he did win $3,000 on a $1.60 slot machine bet and that fuelled his search for more of these kinds of wins.
But at one point Andy recognized that his life was crumbling around him. He needed to stop spending so much time at the casino.
“The longest gambling-free stretch I managed on my own was eight white-knuckled days. And, truly, that was because I didn’t have access to money for those eight days. Gambling was on my mind constantly. Days before I got paid. I often thought about what games I would play and would even watch other people’s slot machine wins on YouTube to psych myself up.”
The turning point came with the insistence from Andy’s boss that he seek help from a twelve-step program.
“In the span of five and a half years, my gambling addiction led me to open twelve credit cards, plunge from no debt to five-figure debt, cash out my 401K and health savings accounts, and never have more than $100 in my savings account. I regularly received overdraft text alerts from my bank.”
Gambling addiction stories like Andy’s are far from the exception. They are closer to the norm.
“in 2007, I was fired. In 2009, I went to prison. By 2010 I was divorced, we had lost our home and I would have a criminal record for the next 15 years.”
Meet Jodie, who has one of the more complex gambling addiction stories. She has what you would call an addictive personality. When she was 25, Jodie managed to quit a three-pack-a-day cigarette habit. By 37, she quit heavy drinking. At 50, she started gambling. It was in 2005 at a conference she was attending that was held in a casino.
“While I was at the conference, between meetings and responsibilities, I gambled at the slot machines. What happened then was, as any compulsive gambler in recovery will tell you, the worst thing that could have happened for me - I won.”
Although this was not her first try at gambling, Jodie says the experience at the conference where she discovered an escape from stress and anxiety. It continued after she got back home in Massachusetts where she obsessed over the machine she was playing on that rewarded her with a jackpot. Many gambling addiction stories feature this type of obsession.
“I thought that if I could just get back to it - get back to the incredible high I felt - a high unlike any I experienced before - get back to that moment of possibility as the reels spun around - things would be good, money would be easy, life would be better.”
It wasn't long before Jodie started visiting local casinos and soon noticed that the quarter slots were no longer providing her with the high she craved. So, she moved on to the dollar slots, and eventually, they were no longer exciting and within six months, Jodie was playing $100 slots at $200 a spin. “For me, it was only about the high - the greater the risk, the greater the reward.”
But Jodie also lost a lot. Six months into her gambling stint and she had lost hundreds of thousands of dollars. She went through her line of credit, maxed out her credit cards, and borrowed from anyone who would loan her money, although she never said it was for gambling. This was in 2005. Two years later, Jodie lost her job for embezzlement, and two years after that, she was in prison serving a two-year sentence for larceny at the age of 55.
“As I lay on that top bunk in prison or walked around the track outside, I had time to think and I learned through the help of a twelve-step program, that there wasn’t enough money in the world to fill that hole. I learned I had to fill it with something else. That is when my true recovery began.”
Jodie followed up on the recovery plan upon being released from prison, and with the assistance and support of family and friends, she is rebuilding her life.
“I am fortunate - I have survived. I did not do it alone…I have managed to get my life back. I have a purposeful career which I never thought was possible. I have a good relationship with my family again. I appreciate every day and give thanks that I am no longer controlled by gambling.”
Jodie’s is one of the gambling addiction stories that give you hope. But, it also demonstrates that a compulsive gambler requires the help of one-on-one counseling through a twelve-step recovery program.
“As far as I knew we were financially secure, with savings for the future. But when, out of the blue, his contract wasn’t renewed, things started to go wrong.”
Denise’s is one of those gambling addiction stories that didn’t directly involve her, but it had a major impact on her and the rest of her family. She married David in 1979 who had a good job as an accountant. She worked as a clerk in an accounts office. The couple started a family and after their second and third child came along - a set of twins, Denise chose to stay home as a full-time mother.
David took care of the household finances and transferred money into Denise’s account when needed. In 2011, he was hired as a financial controller for a local company which included a huge raise in pay. It was, in reality, David’s dream job. A year later, David was unemployed.
“He told me the company had been ‘taken over’ but I later found out this was a lie. The boiler broke and we had no hot water for two weeks because, to my horror, he said we couldn’t afford to fix it. It seemed odd that we had no savings to fall back on, but he said his earnings had all gone on the mortgage and bills.”
It wasn’t long before David found a new job in the accounting department of a different company and Denise trusted that the household finances were back on track. The new job of David’s required him to be away at work all week which meant he only spent weekends at home. It didn’t set off any alarms until one evening in April 2014 when David explained to Denise that he had to represent his company in court and that it was nothing bad and he would be home that evening.
The following afternoon, a Friday, Denise answered the phone and was introduced to a man who said he was a solicitor and explained briefly that, “Your husband’s been given a two-year sentence. He’s on his way to prison in Liverpool.” The local newspaper called and things started to go sideways. David even called from prison to give a short apology to his eldest son, who answered the call.
The next morning, the family learned the truth with David splashed across the front page of the morning edition. He had stolen 53,690 GBP (USD 74,000) from his employer to pay off gambling debts that were connected to his 30-year gambling addiction. These types of numbers are common in gambling addiction stories.
“I started to shake. I had no idea who my husband was anymore. I later discovered he’d been gambling online for hours while away with work. The report said he’d been regularly re-invoicing for his own salary.”
The situation was far worse than that. David had secretly remortgaged their home and had fallen behind on interest payments which put them close to having the home repossessed. Plus, utility and tax bills had not been paid for a year and the smartphone contract had over USD 1,200 owing.
“In total, he had 21 loans (ranging from credit cards to pay-day loans) and had put us 500,000 GBP (USD 689,500) in debt. Each bank statement showed endless payments to gambling websites. One showed his 5,000 GBP (USD 6,900) monthly salary had vanished within three days.”
David’s is one of the gambling addiction stories that has a silver lining. He was encouraged to seek counseling to deal with his addiction and joined Gamblers Anonymous for help. He is now out of prison and has launched a charity with his eldest son to assist other gambling addicts. Denise also feels that her relationship with David has grown stronger as a result.
“Six months in I started thinking maybe I had a problem, but still tried to convince myself that I was in control.”
Cheryl’s story starts much the same way as most gambling addiction stories. She went to a casino with a friend. It was just a friendly outing with no expectations.
“I took forty dollars with me and played until it was gone. After that, I went and sat in the dining area and read a book until my friend was ready to go. However, she ended up winning a nice sum of money. I remember thinking how that would be nice. I could sure use the money! So a few days later, after my now ex-husband and I had been fighting all day, I decided I had had enough and was going to go back to the casino and try to win.”
Cheryl took one-hundred dollars and went. However, in recounting her story, she can’t remember if she ended up winning or not. But she does recall one thing that seems to be common in gambling addiction stories, she had a sense of calmness, an escape from the world she was currently living in.
“What I do remember is that I forgot all my troubles while I was there. I didn’t stress about things at home and for me that was huge.”
It was at this point that gambling became an escape for her. If her children weren’t home, Cheryl was at the casino. Then that changed to where she would be at the casino regardless of where her children were. But six months into gambling, Cheryl thought she may be developing a problem with gambling. Her first sign was when she would get paid on a Friday and would go straight to the casino.
“I lost my whole paycheck that day in a matter of about thirty minutes.”
That was a turning point of sorts. And just like most gambling addiction stories, Cheryl started looking for help. she called the 1-800 number listed on the back of her casino rewards card but that didn’t produce results. It wasn’t long before she was flat broke with bills due and her children in need of various things that parents usually provide. During this time, all Cheryl could think of was ways to find money to go to the casino. Then she called an agency seeking counseling but her insurance wouldn’t cover the cost.
By now, Cheryl was lying to loved ones so they would lend her money. Then she expanded that circle to include strangers.
“One guy was going to give me money to sleep with him. Thank God, I never did anything like that.”
However, this is one of the gambling addiction stories with a twist. Cheryl had hit rock bottom and was searching the internet on “how to quickly and painlessly end your life” when her family came to her rescue. It wasn’t immediate, but her mother took care of paying all of Cheryl’s bills after she opting for her paychecks to be direct deposited into her bank account and gave her mother the only card to access that account. Cheryl’s sister would check on her at home and work to make sure she wasn’t in a casino. And she met a new guy, who later became her new husband.
It is with this solid support group Cheryl has been able to kick her gambling habit.
“Sometimes when I was supposed to be sleeping, I’d gamble instead. It filled-in something that was missing and helped me cope with what had happened throughout the day.”
Danielle’s struggle is a common theme in gambling addiction stories. Hers starts with a relationship that blossomed during her first year of university. That was where she met Abby. Things were good but a year into the relationship, things became difficult. At this time, Danielle started to feel lonely and discovered online gambling could fill those hours that were once spent with Abby.
Oddly enough, Danielle was working at a local arcade and had no idea how a slot machine worked. It was a co-worker that introduced her to a gaming app and that was where Danielle started playing online scratch tickets. With a few early big wins, she kept coming back but initially, it wasn't because of the lure of money. For Danielle, online gambling filled a void.
“It was just something that was always there, that never changed. And at the time, it never hurt me.”
Soon Danielle had the courage to end her relationship with Abby and venture off on her own. It was then that Danielle thought her gambling habit would end but the loneliness of being alone only caused it to escalate. And as we know from other gambling addiction stories, this is a turning point.
Danielle was promoted to manager at the arcade and was already gambling heavily. She borrowed 12,000 GBP (USD 16,500) the maximum available to her from overdrafts and credit cards to help fuel her obsession with gambling. Then she started to take out “loans” from her job. They were small amounts at first, around 100 GBP (USD 140) but soon increased to weekly “loans” averaging 2,000 GBP (USD 2,750) at a time. When her employer confronted her about the situation, over 60,000 GBP (USD 82,750) had gone missing. But Danielle admitted to it right away.
“It felt like a relief. Even the police didn’t understand why I was being so honest, but I’d been waiting to tell everyone this for so long.”
With a one to two-year prison term looming on the horizon, the plot changed in a way you don’t normally see in gambling addiction stories. Due to her good character, Danielle was given a suspended sentence and didn’t have to go to prison. Instead of jail time, she was to complete 25 rehabilitation activity days and serve 175 hours of community service.
Not all gambling addiction stories start or end the same. But most of them all have the same basic parts in the middle. Borrowing or stealing money to keep feeding an obsession that is tied to a long string of losses. Then there’s the part where it’s not the money that provides the fun, it’s the high that comes from finding an escape that is consistent and easily accessible. Sadly, gambling addiction stories could be prevented if gambling wasn’t so attractive. If you think you may have a gambling problem, contact the gambling assistance hotline near you.
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