A recovering gambling addict has explained how he battled his addiction during lockdown.
Writing in The Telegraph, George Cooper explained how he first became embroiled in gambling during a trip to Las Vegas. He found the experience of casinos and slot machines “intoxicating”, recognised it might become a problem, and “was relieved to tear myself away”.
But after going through a breakup he signed up to an online casino, where his betting quickly spiralled out of control and he was spending hours every day on the app.
Cooper said: “It upsets me now to say this, but most of 2017 and 2018 are a blur. I know for a fact that I gambled every single day, virtually all my free time, pausing only to eat, drink and sleep.
“I would wait impatiently for wages to drop into my account, then immediately gamble away half of them or more. Huge losses were met with despair and frustration that I could not control my urge to gamble.
“Huge wins left me numb. Gambling addicts focus on the thrill of the chase, not the size of the win.”
He added: “I don’t how much I lost between September 2016 and January 2019, but even a rough calculation tells me it’s more than £50,000 – and closer to £100,000.”
Cooper said his addiction helped send him “into a severe depression that only months of counselling and the support of close friends finally dug me out of”.
He eventually signed up to Gamstop – an online service which allows gamblers to self-exclude from every UK-licensed casino.
The recovering addict confessed that he was afraid of the impact that months in lockdown would have.
“My fear was that the isolation and boredom of it all, being stuck at home with my laptop for company, would undo more than a year of progress and drag me back to self-destructive behaviour that had already cost me tens of thousands of pounds.”
But he added: “In fact, the opposite is true. Our collective ‘Great Pause’ has allowed me to take stock and decide, finally, to talk about a problem that affects so many people in the UK”.
He concluded: “I cannot say I have conquered it, and I’m still angry at myself for hiding this problem for so long – but I’m strangely grateful for the 100-or-so days of lockdown, which showed me that I can live without the thrill of spinning virtual slots.”