When the chips are down: what it’s like to gamble everything away | Sarah Marsh

I started gambling pretty much as soon as I turned 18. I got hooked on the idea of in-play betting: keeping tabs on a game as it was going through and betting on the next game, based on statistics provided by the company. The odds here are low (evens usually) but by putting on big money you can win a lot. You can also lose a lot; sometimes I was losing £200 a night, in three bets.

I hid this from my family and my friends, at one point I even slept at the bottom of the stairs for a week so I could get to the post before my parents to hide my bank statement from them.

My parents did eventually find out. My father couldn’t understand why I was so keen to listen to the Grand National, and why I was so happy with the result (I won £210 on it). Having been aware that I was gambling, but not the horrific extent of it, he demanded to see my bank accounts. That’s when I broke down into tears and confessed everything. My parents lost trust in me, but they were and are very supportive. I am now proudly a year clean.

More information needs to be circulated about gambling because young people, like myself, can easily start without realising the gravity of what they are doing.

  • Anonymous student, 20 from Newcastle-upon-Tyne

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