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The Pride of a Problem Gambler


This is Part 3 of our interview with DM, a self-confessed problem gambler… Here, we feel the excitement of watching matches with a bet riding on them, and the growing power and success as the stakes increase; the wins get bigger, but so do the losses.

The feeling of pride is certainly a phase in many gambling careers; belief that everything is under control, with a more and more daring approach for bigger and bigger victories and triumphs.

Whilst the more prominent football players are paid millions each year for kicking a ball, a whole industry of broadcasters, pundits, and betting shops make a fortune from the masses of followers who dream of joining the millionaire’s club too…

Consistent disappointments are outweighed by the thrill of a big win.

SW: “What was so exciting about watching a match you were betting on?”

DM: “If the match was panning out as hoped, of course, the feeling was ecstatic. If you’re an ardent football fan, the most exciting thing you can do is watch a game with money riding on the outcome – your fate in the hands of your heroes, who you believe are going to do the business for you – you’re all on the same team, fighting together for the same cause – it was a proxy way of being involved in their lives and their successes.”

“Sitting in the pub with a winning slip burning a hole in my pocket made me feel powerful; sat in the ‘pound seats’ overlooking all the mug punters in the pub who had bet on the other team and were bemoaning their luck all around me. I would go and buy another beer to reward myself.”

SW: “And what were the lows of watching a match you were betting on?”

DM: “If my team were losing I’d be inwardly philosophical about it, take it on the chin, and maintain an air of dignity, even if my insides were churning. After all, no-one in the pub knew I was a loser, and I certainly wasn’t going to admit it. I’d go and buy another beer to make me feel better about losing.”

“When I think about it, the time I wasted following the games and the peripheral money I spent probably far outweighed my career gambling losses – that’s something you don’t think about at the time – it’s all part of the general loop you get into when gambling grabs hold of you.”

SW: “What else made you feel more successful than other punters?”

DM: “By this time I had a well-paid job and was able to play with bigger numbers. I would wait in a queue at the bookies watching people hand over their fivers and tenners thinking their bets were hardly worthwhile, and then I would plonk a couple of hundred on the counter with my slip. Mr Big!”

“If the bets won, I would be back to collect a huge wad of notes, again in front of people I considered would be watching on jealously. The first time I received a £50 note at a counter was the first time in my life I had ever seen one – it just added to the feeling of being a high-roller, someone with the means to do something that others couldn’t afford. Someone with the balls to gamble big.”

“There were several occasions when I handed over my winning slip only to be told by the cashier that he needed to go out the back to their safe as he didn’t have enough cash in the tills to pay me! It felt like I’d broken the bank or something, and I could only imagine what the other customers waiting in the queue behind me were thinking, patiently waiting to collect their £10 wins, when I was about to collect £500.”

“After one win I asked my girlfriend at the time to go in and collect my winnings whilst I waited in the car outside the shop. She came back enthused, with over £800 in her hand! Of course, she didn’t know that £500 of this was my stake money. But, I was successful in her eyes and we went out for a lovely meal. Later, at home, we showered each other in bank notes – it was a real George Best moment!”

SW: “How were you treated by the cashiers in the shops?”

DM: “With indifference mainly. Some were surprised at the size of some of my stakes. Some were put out when they had to hand over large winnings.”

“One guy in my local Coral shop struck up a rapport and he would praise me to the sky when I won accumulators. I had no idea then that he was probably encouraging me to carry on placing accumulator bets purely because they are the bookies’ bread and butter – I learned that lesson far too late.”

SW: “How did your friends treat you?”

DM: “I am a quiet, introverted person…honestly! And on the whole, I kept my gambling habit to myself. I was working in a professional environment and didn’t want to lose face admitting something that people generally find socially unacceptable.”

“I suppose I was a little embarrassed about it but I revelled in the fact that beneath the suit and tie was a guy who dabbled in the underworld, doing something more daring than most of his friends and colleagues would try. I was Jekyll during the week and Hyde at the weekend. But leading a double life made me feel special. No-one knew Mr Hyde really, apart from girlfriends, and even then they would see me bet only very occasionally.”

SW: “Did your gambling addiction affect any of your relationships?”

DM: “When I was in a relationship my gambling activities would always be limited – I never had the time to juggle both, plus a responsible job. But when I was single again, the urge to get back into betting every weekend soon returned.”

“Overall, betting was an on-off activity and I never really got into any rhythm or patterns. Every bet was based on what I felt like gambling on at the time. Some seasons I would bet and other seasons I would miss. I wouldn’t say I had a problem with gambling until the age of internet betting. I never went to casinos, for example – I thought they were for mugs…”

Read the whole interview:
Part 1: The Birth of a Problem Gambler
Part 2: The Mind of a Problem Gambler
Part 3: The Pride of a Problem Gambler
Part 4: The Rise of a Problem Gambler
Part 5: The Reform of a Problem Gambler


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Last Update: 23 August 2013

Categories:Obsession Responsible Gambling



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