Irish man on how his compulsive gambling has left him with debts of €900,000: ‘Before I had even gone to work yesterday I had lost €500’
Published 16/10/2015 | 11:09
An Irish man has opened up about the “enormous guilt” he associates with his gambling addiction which has left him with debts of more than €900,000.
Compulsive gambler John revealed that his addiction has haunted his life for more than twenty years and he has had to rely on his parents to bring groceries to his home to feed his family “week on week”.
Speaking to The Anton Savage Show on Today FM, John said his addiction began when he was 15 when he hit the jackpot on a fruit machine, which at the time provided him with £15.
“It started with fruit machines and poker machines and the unfortunate thing was that the first ever bet I had was a winning bet. I think the top prize at the time was £15 so that money allowed me to buy an enormous amount of things.
“That one scenario would have kicked it into gear. The compulsion then would have started unbeknownst to me at 15 and then continued on and on until I amassed a debt of probably around €900000,” he said.
John revealed that as the years went on his addiction took a greater hold of his life, particularly after the arrival of his children when he was in his early twenties.
“When I was hitting 20 kids had come along. I was young. Around that time there was a lot of pressure on me. I was probably drinking far too much and I was gambling progressively more. €5 had become €10 and then €20.
“I could not get the buzz from just €10 anymore. I’d have to place €50 or more.
“Yesterday morning I had €200 at half seven and I put it on a tennis match to try and win €200 and I lost.
“So I put an additional €300 on another tennis match all in the space of an hour while the kids were getting up and getting ready for school. Before I had even gone to work I had lost €500,” he said.
Over the past twenty years John admitted that he has approached “everyone” to help feed his addiction and is in debt of more than €60,000 to his parents which he said comes with “enormous guilt”.
“I’ve gambled family members’ money, my mother and father’s money, my partner’s money. There have been days when my mother and father have had to bring over food to the house because I’ve gambled all the money away. That has happened week on week.
“St Vincent de Paul had to come out to us one time. I’ve gambled anything I can get my hands on,” he said.
“I owe my parents about €60,000. It’s an accumulative thing. It builds up and builds up and builds up. They probably know I’m never going to pay it back. Don’t get me wrong the guilt is enormous.”
John reveals that the compulsion to place a bet can be so overwhelming that he frequently lies in order to get his hands on the necessary cash.
“I come up with a lie of some form. I have a bill to pay I say, or I tell them something happened the car when it hadn’t.
“I was given money to pay a bill two days ago by my partner. I convinced her that I had to pay the broadband or else it would be cut off. I went and loaded that into a bookies and managed to get it up to €1142 but I am with no money again,” he said.
In 2011, John’s family had staged an intervention for him to seek treatment for his problem and for two years he arrested his addicting and began to get a grasp on his debt. However, in 2013 he relapsed.
“For a while I had a grasp on it but it came back and it bit me really bad this time.
“Treatment wasn’t instigated by me. It was an intervention that put me there. Everyone had enough.
“It’s extraordinarily painful and difficult to deal with.
“At that point every time I walked past a bookies, it was an achievement. Every time I didn’t turn on the laptop it was an achievement,” he said.
John revealed that although he desperately wants to overcome his problem which affects every aspect of his life, he can’t see the end point or the path to recovery.
“I feel like a really cheap vase tethering on the edge, so close to falling off. The point where I fall off is probably not worth talking about. That’s how I feel.”
“My life is unmanageable. I can’t do this on my own. I can’t. Even though I may come across as someone who doesn’t want help I can’t see the goals I need to get to,” he said.