Young people struggle with gambling addiction

TW: Gambling addiction, suicide, depression

Nick went to a casino with £1,500 and after two days ended up walking away with £10,600. It was the biggest victory he had ever had.

He took the money and went on vacation to Bali, but unfortunately his gambling problems were not going away.

“That win was the worst thing that could have happened to me,” Nick told his 3.3 million TikTok followers. “Every time I made money, I lost money. It was a bad place. I was going down a dark road.

Luckily for Nick, he managed to turn his life around and hasn’t placed a bet since November 2020. Now he encourages others not to make the same mistakes he did.

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The gambling industry derives 60% of its profits from compulsive or at-risk gamblers

The NHS defines gambling problem as “a game that disrupts or harms you or your family, or interferes with your daily life”.

Like Nick, many problem gamblers start at an early age. The gambling commission estimates that there are 55,000 children who have a problem with dangerous gambling.

There are 330,000 adult compulsive gamblers and 44,000 adults at risk of taking this route. And surprisingly, the gaming industry does 60% of its profits come from compulsive or at-risk gamblers.

The Tab spoke to a few young people who have overcome their gambling addiction and are looking to warn others not to make the same mistakes they did.

“It just seemed like you could make easy money”

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Harri became addicted to scratch cards when he was at school, progressing to football betting at bookmakers when he was 18. “It sounded like you could make easy money,” Harri told The Tab.

But once there, the roller machines also pleased him and very quickly became uncontrollable. “The stakes go up and you start to risk more. It just gets out of control that way,” Harri told The Tab.

Harri got a job for a year before going to university and was also a football coach on the side, with the extra money allowing him to place bets as high as £1,000.

“When I was working full time it was easier to cover myself because I got a monthly salary and also got money from football every week. But at university I couldn’t hide it” , Harri said.

“Whenever I wasn’t working, I was playing”

Matt Zarb-Cousin, a former compulsive gambler who now advocates for better gambling control, also got into betting at a young age.

Matt became addicted to slot machines during sixth grade, saying, “Whenever I wasn’t working, I was gambling.”

It’s no wonder, then, that when Matt’s student loan plummeted, one of the first things he did was place a bet. “All of a sudden I had all this money and I was at the bookmakers almost every day.” Matt told The Tab.

In a single day, Matt lost £2,500, which was all the money he had at the time.

“Gaming has affected my life in every possible way”

Matt at his graduation

Harri also lost big in college. In his second year, he ended up losing all his money, resorting to payday loans and selling his phone and laptop. His mental health deteriorated when gambling began to “affect his life in every possible way”.

Matt also had mental health issues as a direct result of gambling. Inability to place bets due to lack of money led to intense withdrawals and depression. “You can’t escape, because the game is what you use to escape those problems,” Matt told The Tab.

And one day, it got so bad that Matt even considered killing himself. At this point, his family stepped in and Matt went to therapy. After six weeks of therapy and a relapse, Matt managed to quit acting at the age of 20.

But the problems didn’t end there. The next two years were really tough as Matt describes the “residual issues” that remain after quitting playing.

“It’s fine to deal with the addiction, but once that process has happened and the person has overcome the addiction and stopped gambling, that doesn’t mean the problems have stopped,” Matt told The Tab. .

“If the videos get big, other people may realize they’re not alone”

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Everyone The Tab has spoken to hasn’t placed a bet in a while and is feeling much better.

Harri said he “don’t feel like it anymore” and that doing TikToks about his gambling problem has helped him on the road to recovery.

He couldn’t have imagined how popular his videos would become, with many garnering hundreds of thousands of views. “If the videos get big, other people may realize they’re not alone,” Harri told The Tab.

Nick has also documented his gambling history and recovery journey on TikTok, proudly telling his 3.3 million followers that he’s managed to get out of debt and put his gambling life behind him.

“You can’t win in the long run”

Since quitting gambling, Matt has been a prominent figure campaigning for greater regulation within the industry, putting in place Gambiansoftware you can install to prevent you from gambling online, which now has over 85,000 users.

When asked what his advice would be to young people considering gambling, Matt said he would never tell anyone not to bet, but added that people should know “you can’t win in the long run . The bookmakers will not allow this to happen.

If you have been affected by any of the issues raised in the article, the NHS offers problem gambling support. Other support services include Gamcare and BeGambleAware.

Gamban (software that blocks online gambling) is free via, a pilot bringing together Gamban, GAMSTOP and Gamcare.

Featured Image Background: Nata789 /shutterstock

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