A Welsh man who became addicted to online gambling during the pandemic last year, has come forward to warn others how an occasional flutter has the potential to turn into a full-blown addiction. He ignored all the warning signs until he was forced to seek professional help for his problem.
Craig Walding told a local newspaper that in the past he would place a bet now and then on football matches at weekends. He and his friends would back their favorite teams and went in not expecting to make a profit.
However, Walding’s habits became progressively more worrying over the years.
Things came to a head last year when he started to play online casino games during the pandemic while in lockdown.
The results were staggering: Within a space of just several months, Walding had lost a whopping £40,000 of his savings.
£20,000 of that was lost in one night of play.
The player had reached the end of his tether. He was shut off in his home, away from friends and family because of COVID-19. He was forced to take out loans from shady companies or beg for handouts from his family. Broke, depressed and ashamed, Walding even contemplated suicide at one point.
Light at the end of the Addiction Tunnel
The turning point came when Walding decided to confront his addiction and reached out to the Cardiff-based support group, Footsteps to Recovery.
After a lot of soul-searching and hard work, the 36-year-old believes that he is now over his addiction.
He is currently training to take part in a charity boxing match to raise money for the support group, as a way of paying it forward.
Walding opened up about the reasons behind why he reached the lowest point of his life. With everything shut because of the pandemic, he suddenly found himself all alone in his small apartment, with only his screens to keep him entertained.
His odd flutter on Premier League games suddenly turned into daily bets when following up on online casino adverts on social media, as he took advantage of bonuses and promotions.
“I was a train wreck,” he said. “I was shut off, I was drinking more, I felt so down, so hopeless and so ashamed – I didn’t want to tell anyone, not even my family.
“I never thought I’d ever even consider suicide, but I was so deep in this hole that I just didn’t know what else to do, I couldn’t see a way out.
“Getting into all that debt, I couldn’t pay my rent or my bills, and my plans were ruined. I knew at that point, I was either going to end things or I had to reach out for help. I decided to do the latter, thank God.”
What Online Casinos are Doing to Prevent Addiction
Regulated, licensed and secure online casinos take all the necessary steps to make sure that players are kept well protected. They do their utmost to prevent problem gambling. These range from age verification features to loss limits features. But loss limits features offered by many online casinos are sadly not enough to curb serious gambling problems, since players can simply move on to another online casino.
Some of the tools supported by online casinos include:
- Protecting underage users: This includes verifying that players are legally allowed to bet and that vulnerable players and under 18’s cannot access the games and play for real money.
- Staff awareness: Online casinos provide players with a responsible gambling environment. Staff are trained to recognize signs of problem gambling. They will suggest gambling management tools to protect players and provide 24/7 customer support.
- Gambling management tools: Players can set daily, weekly or monthly deposit limits for their online casino activity for a particular period. There are even self-exclusion options.
Adopting Responsible Gambling Habits
As noted above, once a person has developed a full-blown addiction, the tools mentioned above won’t be effective enough, and only professional support will help.
To avoid reaching this critical stage, players should adopt responsible gambling habits.
- Only spending what you can afford
- Setting limits for your time and money spent
- Realizing that gambling is not the answer to life’s woes
- Not gambling when upset or angry
- Not allowing gambling to interfere with personal or professional relationships
- Understanding that gambling is a fun, enjoyable pastime and is not a way to make money.