Some people become addicted to gambling, and when they do, they often wind up losing much more than their money. Here are three gambling addiction stories that highlight the perils of the compulsion.
How to Lose £3,500 in Less than an Hour
Last year, The Guardian published a story about Tony Franklin.¹ According to Franklin, it took him a mere 59 minutes to lose £3,500 while playing on a rapid gambling machine at a nearby Coral bookmakers. One minute, the money was in his account and the next, it was gone.
Just before Christmas, he was at it again. This time, Franklin used his debit card to spend £500 gambling on the wrong roulette numbers. Less than 10 minutes later, he withdrew another £1,000. It was gone in 39 minutes. Unable to let the machine win, he spent £2,000 more in an attempt to overcome the odds.
In speaking of the incident, he said, “I was in a fog. It was me and the machine. I threw it all away.” The husband and father confirmed that this one incident resulted in his losing months of savings. He said, “I don’t need to be told that gambling ruins lives. It’s ruined mine several times.” Franklin estimates that his two-decade long gambling addiction has cost him around £1 million. The urge that he feels to gamble is akin to the one that a junky feels for drugs.
The Emotional and Physical Pain of Rock Bottom
When it comes to gambling horror stories, an account that Gambling Therapy circulated a few years ago stands out as it shows how a gambling addiction can take a person to his or her lowest point.² In this story, the gambler admits that he began gaming at age 16. By the time he was 18 years old, he was frequenting casinos where he played roulette and blackjack. Once he reached his early 20s, his gambling addiction caused him to be late on his rent, and frequently, he had no food to eat.
He behaved in unconscionable ways and admitted that he was often ashamed of his actions. For instance, on one occasion when his rent was past due, he borrowed money from a pal. This friend knew about his problem and warned him against gambling.
As our gambler was on his way to pay the rent, he discovered that his buddy had given him a few dollars more than he actually needed. Instead of hanging onto the extra money, he decided to turn it into more by gambling. He lost everything. While walking home penniless, he realized that he was going to be evicted. After arriving home, he considered his options. He had nothing of value to sell nor could he ask for more money from his friend. A week earlier, he’d even been fired from his job. This time, his landlord would surely kick him out.
The future was looking bleak. He was afraid to sleep because he knew that he would have bad dreams. While looking around his shabby apartment, his eye landed on a deodorant bottle. Our gambler explained that he didn’t know how or why the idea formed, but he grabbed the bottle and started hitting his head with it. The gambler wasn’t doing it for punishment. Instead, he was hurting himself to get out of a desperate situation.
After beating his face with the deodorant bottle for several minutes, numerous bruises formed. In the morning, he went to his landlord and told him that he had been mugged. The landlord was sympathetic, and he said that our gambler could wait to pay the rent. He told his friend the same story about the mugging. The tumble to rock bottom can be emotionally and physically painful.
Throwing Away Life’s Most Important Treasures
Our gambling losses stories conclude with Justyn Rees Larcombe’s tale. In his story, gambling became more important than his family and his career. The Telegraph shared Larcombe’s story in 2014.³ In just two years, Justyn gambled away £750,000 of the wealth that he and his wife, Emma, worked hard to save. This sum included the equity of a residence that the couple sold to purchase their dream home as well as his wife’s savings and money that he’d borrowed.
When Emma discovered that he’d gambled away their financial future, she left the home that the couple was renting, and she took their two children with her. Not only did Justyn lose his family, but he was also fired from his job for using the company’s corporate credit card to place bets. In speaking of this time, he said, “I wasn’t a father. I wasn’t a husband. I wasn’t an employee. I was just in my office betting all the time.”
To continue feeding his addiction, he sold his tailored suits for the cost of a tea towel. He also gambled away his son’s christening silver and an engraved bible. He confirms that he truly thought that the next bet would resolve all of his financial woes.
With the support of his family and Gamblers Anonymous, he was able to overcome his addiction. He has even set up a charity to lobby the government to increase aid for the country’s gamblers. Today, Larcombe is debt-free, and his wife has returned. However, he came as close as a person can come to losing everything. In fact, some might say that he did lose it all for a while.
Learning from the Mistakes of Others
Instead of generating your own tale, learn from the gambling stories of others. Also, seek help if your gambling is growing out of control. A number of government sponsored and privately operated agencies are available to help you overcome this real and devastating mental disorder.