[editor note: This lady was too afraid to give her full details, so her name and other key identifying details have been changed to protect her identity]
I used to gamble online after my husband & teenage kids went to bed. It started off as a bit of “me” time, but then over a period of a couple of years escalated and got out of hand. But the deeper I got the harder it was to keep secret. I went off my food and didn’t want to eat. My moods became depressed but I put on a brave face for the rest of the world. I lost a lot of weight (down from 9.5 stone to 6) and would wear baggy jumpers so no-one found out. I left my husband Pat a note telling him and finally made it to GA. I packed a sleeping bag in my car as I fully expected to be locked out when I got home.
I was given some good advice and kept attending GA. One of the first things I did was to self exclude myself from the sites I used to gamble with, which in my case was Gala Interactive. My husband and children were incredibly supportive and I managed to go 5 years without a bet. I cleared all my gambling debts and even had a new career with the Ambulance Service lined up.
Everything was going well, but last year Pat developed a drink problem and we ended up splitting up. But thankfully we are still the best of friends.
Recently I experimented with online dating a few times, just to get me out of the house if nothing else. But my last date had some unexpected results.
I was raped for 4 hours, literally beaten black & blue.
I was in so much emotional pain that I didn’t know what to do with myself. I tried to numb myself by gambling, going back to the same provider (Gala) that I had banned myself from previously.
- They let me open an account without a problem (using my real details)
- They watched me gamble £19,000 in under 5 weeks (everything that Pat had given me in separation)
- They never called or contacted me to find out why I was hurling money at them
It looks like GalaInteractive / Labrokes have recently been fined twice for similar oversights before my recent experience? http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-41884294 They clearly didn’t learn or change much which is shocking.
Surely Gambling Operators should be able to identify patterns of irrational behaviour. Or at least employ Psychologists to check on vulnerable customers?