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Rob’s story

When I was 10 or 11, I selected my first football teams for an accumulator my dad placed for me. I always checked the football scores on a Saturday and it was amazing to do what my dad did, and the chance to win a couple of quid was cool. This went on for a few years and I started to like horse racing too. When I was 18 I would bet on horses and football as I had grown up with them, but it was fun, it was affordable, it was a hobby.

Moving to online gambling

When I was 21, an opportunity presented itself to work full time with great prospects. I still gambled for fun but after moving out of my parents’ house this changed very quickly. I found online gambling which was much more accessible than going to the shop and meant I could gamble at home anytime. It also gave me access to more football than ever before and the availability of in-play betting meant even more opportunity. I found myself, most evenings, gambling on football from countries I knew nothing about. I could bet on horse racing a lot easier too. I had more access, more betting markets and nobody to tell me to stop.

Starting to lose control

If I had continued gambling for fun or because of my enjoyment of sport then I would have been fine, but the way I gambled meant I was losing money quicker and I started to lose control. I had a trusted position at work and access to money. I do not recall the first time I took money from work but my need to gamble was greater than the risk of a ‘few quid’ and in my mind I was going to win and pay it back without anyone knowing. I cannot recall whether or not I did win, but I know that I did not pay it back.

My bets got bigger

I still wasn’t gambling huge sums of money, but I was gambling a lot more frequently. The ‘few quid’ had turned into minimum £10 bets and sometimes £100s. I spent Saturdays and Sundays researching in the morning, then the rest of the day watching racing and football, and online gambling.

Reported to the police

When I met my partner, I was still gambling for fun (just), so she accepted that this was something I did. When gambling was a significant problem a few years later she showed concern, but I would brag about winnings and how well I was doing. I would never talk about the losses, and kept as much as I could secret. After four to five years of lying to loved ones, deceit, and stealing from people who trusted me, it was noted in work that money was missing from accounts. It was quickly traced to me and I lost my job and was reported to the police.

Despite having a good job and a loving partner, I had been on a rollercoaster that was out of control. I had created my own secretive bubble, fuelled by my need to gamble and my loss of reality in terms of the amounts of money involved and my illegal behaviours. 

Supported to stop gambling

I received treatment through ARA (Recovery for All) – they work with the BigDeal team and GamCare. The sessions with my counsellor helped me massively in the first few weeks. The support helped me with my mental health and allowed me to start evaluating my life. I am forever grateful for the advice and service I received.

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