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Gambling Addiction and Its Victims

Horse-RacingA man who promised his dying friend that he would look after his wife has broken that promise in spectacular fashion. Shane Beard told his friend that he would take care of the woman who suffered with multiple sclerosis; instead of making sure she was okay though, he gambled away all her savings.

At Gloucester Crown Court, it was heard that 26-year old Beard had a gambling addiction and, as a result, took £19,000 from his dead friend’s wife. Beard admitted the charges in court and he was sentenced to one year in prison.

The offences were discovered when the bank contacted the woman to let her know she did not have enough funds to pay her mortgage. Beard had had access to the account to pay for shopping and bills but was instead spending the money on gambling.

The £19,000 stolen was a drop in the ocean compared to the amount that had actually been gambled by the defendant since 2003. Beard frittered away a total of £154,168 over the past 10 years.

Defence attorney Stephen Parker asked for a suspended sentence in light of the fact that the defendant showed remorse for his actions and had a young daughter who he wanted to spend time with over Christmas. However, the judge felt that in light of the vulnerability of the victim, it was something for which a prison sentence was warranted.

The Devastating Effects of a Gambling Addiction

Gambling can devastate the person with the addiction as well as those around them. As in the case above, Shane Beard’s addiction left his victim devastated at the breach of trust as well as leaving a young child without a father over Christmas. There are families all over the UK suffering in a similar fashion at the moment due to addiction. Gambling has become a huge issue in the UK over the past number of years. It has been estimated that in the UK, around 350,000 people currently have a gambling problem. The problem with gambling addiction is that many addicts will turn to crime in order to allow them to continue to gamble when they can no longer access their own cash. This means that they are leaving themselves open to criminal convictions on top of the suffering of the innocent victims.

Recognising a Gambling Problem

Gambling can be highly addictive; many addicts do not even realise they have a problem. Some will never ask for help and very few will actually get treatment. Gambling can be considered a problem when an individual has amassed debts due to gambling or when that person is missing work in order to stay at home and gamble. Some gamblers will stay up late at night claiming they cannot sleep and, while their partner is asleep, may be frittering away cash from their bank account.

They may then feel guilty about it the next morning but instead of coming clean, they will begin gambling again to try to win back what they have lost. Gambling is a compulsion and those suffering with compulsive gambling have an illness. Even when they know it is wrong, they cannot stop.

Gamblers will often become secretive and will try to avoid doing activities with friends or family members because it will be taking them away from their habit. Lying often becomes the norm for gamblers as they will not want others to know what they are doing and they will not want anyone to know about their financial situation. Gamblers will often borrow money from friends or family for their gambling but will provide other ‘reasons’ for why they need the money. Lying becomes second nature to them just so that they can get what they need.

Gamblers will often become moody and depressed when they are losing. Personalities will often change the longer the person has been gambling. Once the financial situation gets out of control, they may become aggressive and violent. Moreover, when they feel that things are getting desperate, they often turn to crime.

Gambling is an Illness

Gambling is an impulse control disorder and can be considered a mental health problem. Gamblers feel a compulsion to gamble even when they know deep down that they should not. This is similar to those who feel the need to steal even though they know it is wrong. Those who suffer from compulsive gambling will be constantly thinking about gambling and, in a similar fashion to alcohol or drug dependency, will get to a point at which what they are gambling is not enough. They will then begin to take bigger risks or bet larger amounts to get the same thrill.

Compulsive gamblers often use gambling as a way to feel better and to escape from the daily grind. Some even make friends with others also using online gaming sites. They will then spend more and more time online gambling with their ‘friends’.

What Causes a Gambling Addiction?

There is no one reason why someone will develop an addiction to gambling. Some people can gamble every week by placing a bet on a football match or horse race and never develop an addiction. However, some will bet once or twice and instantly become hooked.

There are various reasons why people will bet in the first place. Some have read about others who have had big wins and want to try their luck. Others are depressed and are looking for a means of escape. For some, gambling is a way to try to win money in order to help them out of a difficult financial situation. Christmas can be a time when many people will feel under pressure and will try their hand at betting in the hopes that they may win a little bit of money to help them out. However, when they have lost money that they actually could not afford to lose, they get desperate and bet more to try to win back what they have lost. A cycle of betting often begins like this.

For some, the thrill of winning is very strong and, if they win, they want to bet repeatedly to get the same rush. This is when an addiction can begin. This is similar to someone with a drug addiction. They are always chasing that initial ‘rush’.

Gambling can become addictive for one person and not for another simply because one person is more prone to addiction. An addictive personality means that some individuals are more likely to become reliant on things such as alcohol or drugs or even gambling.

Help for Gambling Addiction

Gambling can quickly become a problem for some people and, without the right help and support, it can devastate their lives and the lives of those around them. A person with a gambling addiction will need counselling and treatment and maybe even a stint in a rehabilitation centre to get the gambling under control. At Addiction Helpline, we can offer the right advice to those with a gambling addiction. We will advise on the various treatment options available and can help to arrange rehabilitation within 24 hours, no matter where in the UK you are. Call us today to speak to one of our experts.




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