Friday 19 January 2018

'You have sleepless nights' - young man (24) who became addicted to gambling says betting is part of the GAA culture

Photo: AFP/Getty Images
Photo: AFP/Getty Images

Claire Fox

A 24-year-old man by the name 'Anthony' who struggles with a gambling addiction told RTE's Liveline today that gambling is a part of GAA and sport culture.

Speaking to presenter Damien O' Reilly, Anthony said that his interest in sport and efforts to fit into the older team were what initially drew him to gambling.

"I think it is because you'd be aware of all the sporting events that are going on. I would've gone from the younger team into the bigger team and it was just to fit in. They'd be putting up screenshots of their bets and you'd be trying to do the same and trying to win," he said. 

Anthony didn't place his first "big bet" until he was 22 and said that it was the "buzz" he got from it that led him to gamble more and get into €3000 worth of debt. 

"I don't owe money to any financial institution, just friends and family, €100 and €200 here and there," he said.

Although Anthony hasn't placed a bet in six months, he explained that his mental health has suffered as a result of gambling and he even gave up football for a few months.

"You can't socialise with your friends and you've sleepless nights and you just think where are you going to get the money to pay everyone back and worrying about car insurance which has gone through the roof." 

Anthony received help from his local GAA club and family, but cited former Armagh footballer Oisín McConville's book, The Gambler, as a big help toward his recovery.

McConville, who suffered a gambling a addiction, too spoke on the show and praised Anthony for his bravery which represents Irish society as a whole and not just the GAA.

"Within the GAA there is an issue but the GAA reflects Irish society in a massive way," said McConville.

McConville also blamed online gambling for introducing gambling to people "at a touch of a button".

"Our stories reflect each other in different ways. When I was a gambler I physically took the money and handed it over the counter. Now because of online and different things you can gamble on anything. We have to be aware of the implications of gambling and that's epitomised in Anthony's story."

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