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My 1st Post
I am an Englishman living in France, with my wife and 3 kids.

I have had issues with gambling for decades.

As a kid we used to go for pub lunches most weekends. My Nanna was into bingo & bandits. As an 8 year old I used to watch her play the bandits after lunch in the pub. I used to press the buttons, to bring her 'luck'. I loved it!! We used to go to the seaside sometimes too, and we always ended up in an arcade, playing the bandits. This, I suppose, was my introduction to gambling. She died 5 years ago, but in her 80's she used to put pounds into the big jackpot machines at the bingo. Its safe to say she had issues with compulsive gambling!! I don't know if its genetic or my introduction to gambling at an early age, or a combination of the two, but I have issues too.

As a teenager every opportunity to put money in a bandit would send my eyes buzzing & spinning until it was all gone. Holidays in Backpool & Butlins, all I wanted to do was put money in Bandits.I suppose it was only fear and shyness that kept me out of the seedy arcades in my hometown. Gambling on bandits was always a pleasure throughout my teens, and it couldn't really have been considered a problem.

At 18 I went to Uni. 1st year, no gambling. 2nd year a friend who liked the horses took me too a betting shop for the 1st time. Straight away I was betting everyday. I quite often literally had no money, and when I did I gambled it. My girlfriend (now my wife) used to feed me, she went to uni (I'd started skipping lectures, and really going to uni at all anymore), and she'd give me money to get something for tea. I tried to make sure there was money left for a placepot on the horses. This stint lasted about 5 years, daily betting on the horses, not really losing much money, just more to do with betting everyday, if I could. One day I just stopped and went years with no betting.

This trend continued, but when the gambling spells came, it was always full-on, everyday.

My problems came about due to Online Gambling in 2007. My wife had always kind of forbade me to have an online account and I didn't push it. I went to a friends stag weekend in York. We were supposed to go to the races but it was rained off. So we went to the pub and put bets on at the bookies instead - this was the start of the next gambling stint. Once back home after the weekend, I opened up my first online account, without telling my wife. I funded it with our credit card. I don't even know why I did it. Needless to say, betting everyday, I quickly ran up a debt. I began opening up accounts with many, many firms to take advantage of intro offers, betting everyday. One day I started chasing a losing bet. I lost and was annoyed about losing it. It was the 1st day of the 2007 Rugby World Cup so I put on France to beat Argentina, this would get me back.  Compulsive!! Argentina beat hosts France - I lost - I don't really even like Rugby or know much about it. Next day I backed my team, Carlisle,  against Tranmere -. We lost 1-0. (Carlisle then won our next 13 consecutive home matches - talk about fate & warning signs!! I went home and my wife was bathing the kids, I cried and told my wife I was a sh*t dad, but without telling her the real reason. This continued until one day my wife confronted me. She'd seen warning signs in my behavior and seen a letter from the latest account that I'd opened. We had debt on our credit card. I know that some will see the amount of money as not alot, but its the secrecy and deceit that is most upsetting. I closed all my accounts and stopped betting online.
After my 1st problems with online gambling I went back to traditional betting shop gambling involving Saturday football coupons and live telly match bets, and I thought it was fine.
In 2011 we moved to France, rural France, not much to do. French opening times aren’t great, closed for lunch etc. So after finding the shop closed for lunch whilst trying to do our euromilions once too often – we opened an online account with the supplier in France. This same supplier also has sports betting linked to the same username & password. It wasn’t a trick to open another online account, I genuinely didn’t intend it, but I now had access to sports betting online again. Over the following years I repeated the same online patterns as before, not losing much in financial terms, but nevertheless money we couldn’t really afford to lose, but no debt and no chasing loses at least.
Then I started betting with my overdraft, don’t really know why, and then I was chasing the loss. Before long I was in the red, and no real chance to pay it back, as money is very tight. Worry and waking at night began to follow, at these times I told myself tomorrow I would stop. The next day, in the cold light of day, I continued to build debt until one day I went to our local tax office to query a bill we’d been sent. They said it was an error and that they owed us. I knew that I’d paid a similar bill in 2013, and had them look at that. They said that too was incorrect and that they owed us. This was about the same as my debt in £. I used the money to pay the debt, but only told my wife part of it. Not because I wanted to deceive her, but because I could save face and clear the debt, sleep properly and move on. But then I continued to gamble starting to build a fresh debt. This was like my ‘eureka’ moment, I realized that I have a gambling addiction, and possibly always have. But for me only online gambling and the instant easy accessibility of it brought about the biggest problems. Like placing a footy fourfold, then again when the 1st leg lost, then again, when the next 1st leg lost too. Losing three bets for the price of three, not one!! Luckily, soon after I had got to less debt when my wife saw me acting shiftily as she looked for some documents. She found a bill I said I’d paid but hadn’t, and I confessed to her. I feel so relieved, but guilty and sad too, about all the deceit and wasted money when we live on such a tight budget. We looked at the last calendar year and worked out how much i'd lost. I have to take responsibility for that and vow that it will never happen again.
I know that I can stop gambling, I’m on day 5 now. I find, for me, it doesn’t take very long to break the habit. But this time I need to never do it again, not next week, next month, next year or next decade. This time it’s over for good. I’m on here to help myself do this, and to help others if I can. If you can’t take or leave gambling, then you’ve gotta leave it!!
Thanks for your message. Things are going well, I'm on day 7 now. I'm actually finding I'm enjoying watching footy for the sport. I can support the underdog, like when I was younger. Watching footy that I'd bet on made me get a stress headache, and for example want Man Utd to crush Palace - awful really!!

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