Mother: ‘I gambled away £5,000 in 90 minutes’

A mother has shared how her gambling addiction caused her to attempt suicide.

Bev, 59, first started gambling 16 years ago when she responded to a pop-up advert online and quickly turned £10 into £800.

She said: “I then started depositing more and more and that £800 was gone very quickly. After that, I was hooked.”

‘VIP customer’

Her problem worsened over the years, maxing out credit cards, taking out loans and borrowing from friends and family to fund her habit – lying to them about what the money was for.

She said: “My husband and I are both on good salaries and I would often wait up until midnight on payday when the money came into my account each month. My husband was asleep in bed and, within a couple of hours, I’d blown the lot.”

Recognising she had a problem, she would sometimes try to stop, but companies would tempt her back with exclusive offers.

Bev recalls: “the companies would message you as a ‘VIP customer’ and say, ‘We haven’t seen you for a while – here’s £200 in your account’. That was so bad.”

‘Devastating affliction’

She thinks gamblers should be subject to financial checks when they create new accounts, much like for a bank loan.

She said: “The number of times I deposited thousands of pounds in a very short period of time… they must have realised I had a problem, but they just encouraged it all the more”.

It was not until Christmas Day 2018 that Bev hit rock bottom. She lost £5,000 in 90 minutes, and then took an overdose.

She has since received help for her addiction and is in recovery, but wants more people to know that gambling is not just a male problem but a “devastating affliction” which affects also women.

‘Innocent appearance’

A leading UK therapist in gambling addiction among women, Liz Karter, says it is the escape from the stresses of everyday life that attracts women to gambling.

She added: “For women, gambling is about losing themselves in an experience where ultimately, they think and feel nothing.”

According to Karter “the easy availability of online gambling” can be linked to the rise of gambling among women who get hooked on “games that appear innocent and socially acceptable”.

“We have gambling in our homes, offices and handbags.”

’Stigmatised and ashamed’

Research by GambleAware has revealed that the number of women being treated for gambling addiction has doubled during the last five years.

It is estimated that up to one million women in the UK are at risk of experiencing gambling-related problems.

Zoe Osmond, Chief Executive of GambleAware, told The Independent that “women often feel much more stigmatised” and ashamed, making them “less likely to access help and guidance”.

According to their research, two in five women may avoid seeking help with their addiction.

Also see:

Gambling app

Women looking to escape trauma getting hooked on gambling

Concerning gambling among Scottish youth

ROI committee calls for ban on online gambling ads targeting kids

Destructive £1.2bn cost of gambling laid bare

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