I’m Jacob, a 32-year-old Englishman now emigrated to Australia.
I was ten years old when my mother passed away after losing her long-fought battle against breast cancer. It was a very difficult time for me, my younger sister and my father.
My father used to take me to watch football most weekends which gave me something to look forward to despite the fact that my team lost more often than not. It was at the football that I discovered sports betting and from the age of 16 started placing small bets at the stadium to add a little more excitement to the game I was about to watch.
I also watched a lot of sport on TV so when gambling became accessible through the red button on my remote, I started gambling on games that I watched from home. I would also pass a betting shop on my walk to and from school every day and would often duck in for a quick punt on my way home if there were any games on that evening.
Once sports gambling became accessible to me via my smart phone, I started venturing into betting on all different types of sports outside of my usual. My commute into London every day meant I had plenty of time to kill, so gambling and following sport on my phone became my new routine. My boss at work was also a huge punter and introduced me to a number of new ways to gamble.
I tried to escape when I realised how bad my gambling was getting, my grandma left me some money when she passed so instead of wasting this away, I decided to put it to good use and travel the world. But sadly, even when I travelled, I still couldn’t help myself, I gambled less frequently but as soon as I was earning a wage, my gambling quickly became routine again. Why was it following me everywhere I went?
The next five years of my life my gambling patterns became quite sporadic but a lot more destructive. I would go weeks, and sometimes even months without gambling. I tried many times to stop and attended GA numerous times. But relapses would knock me back and each time would be worse than the time before. I had let many people down, my family, my friends, people that loved me and cared about me, I wouldn’t listen to them, I wouldn’t buy them nice birthday or Christmas presents because I was selfish, any money I had went on my gambling addiction.
My final relapse was the worst and lasted many months. It was when I first moved back to Sydney four years ago and struggled to settle and didn’t know many people. I turned to gambling as my way to hide away from these issues and locked myself away in my room and would gamble every day on sport as well as horses and greyhounds. My salary would go in the first week I was paid and found myself turning to Payday loans to pay my living expenses. Eventually I realised this couldn’t continue and I had exhausted all options to get money to pay my rent. I had to confess AGAIN, to the people I love, who believed I would never gamble again. I still remember the feeling; it was like no other I have every experienced before. Guilt, shame, embarrassment, fear, sadness all rolled into one big feeling that just made you feel like you wanted to go to bed and never wake up again!
My epiphany moment came at McMahons Point in Sydney when I realised this could not continue and I had to stop gambling before I lost a lot more than money. This had to be it, my recovery started here and boy it’s been a long hard road but one that has been so worthwhile.
I’m now three years without a bet and my life has changed so much. I have a wonderful partner, saved up enough money to afford a permanent visa in Australia and have rebuilt my relationships with my family who didn’t trust me. I live a much happier life without gambling and am extremely passionate about helping others like myself who might be struggling with a gambling addiction. This is why I volunteered to help the Alliance for Gambling Reform and will continue to share my story to help raise awareness of how destructive a gambling addiction can be.