A woman has revealed how she gambled away the money from selling her house, without telling her partner.
Michelle Singlehurst first began betting on the lottery online, but quickly became hooked on other gambling games and often found herself betting alone in the middle of the night.
She opened accounts with nine different companies, and was given VIP status by many, having made significant losses. They offered her perks and gifts to continue betting, which she found hard to resist.
Michelle used up all the money in her bank account, and so in order to feed her addiction, she took out a loan from the bank without telling Chris, her partner, and also borrowed tens of thousands from her friends, telling them it was for bills.
Around this time, they had been renting a second house that could accommodate them, their daughter and Michelle’s elderly mother, and had been letting out their own home temporarily.
Soon though, they decided to sell their family home, with Chris trusting Michelle – his partner of 30 years and an independent financial advisor – to manage the sale. However, when the sale went through, she hid it from him and used the money to continue gambling.
Chris found out about the sale when a friend told him they saw people living in the house. Angry at Michelle, he left with their daughter.
Early the next year, after spending Christmas alone, Michelle took an overdose and ended up in hospital, although even this did not prevent her from gambling from her hospital bed.
She admitted: “It wasn’t until I was told I had a one-in-three chance of survival that I finally had a rude awakening. I couldn’t believe how ill I was and how close to being homeless.”
During her time in hospital, she reconciled with her family and they forgave her, but they are still feeling the repercussions of her actions.
In all, Michelle lost around £550,000 gambling over three years – and her job.
She has now stopped, but admits she has not recovered “from the chaos left behind.”
Earlier this month, industry regulator the Gambling Commission announced a “package of strict measures” for online slot games.
These include a ban on games which allow gamblers to bet more often than once every two-and-a-half seconds, and a ban on imagery or sounds which portray losses as wins.
However, the Commission was branded “toothless” by MPs, as there are still no upper limits on stakes, meaning gamblers can still lose thousands of pounds a minute.
Labour MP Carolyn Harris, who chairs the Gambling Related Harm All Party Parliamentary Group, said: “Until we have parity on stakes both online and on land at £2, the industry will continue to profit from the damage addiction causes.”