Gambling is All or Nothing – When I Start It’s Hard to Stop

Written by Skint Dad on 18 July 2017

I have somewhat of an addictive personality and I always get really stuck into what I’m doing. If I start exercising, I know that I will give it my all. A year or so back, I started walking for hours every morning before the kids even got out of bed. I would watch the sun come up while walking through fields and forests near to where we lived. I watched the pounds drop off the scales and I knew I was getting healthy. I would have to do it everyday as, if I rested for just one day, I knew I’d never get up early to do it again.

And I was right. One evening, I stayed up late and didn’t set the alarm. I laid in and have never been out for my morning exercise again.

If I start something, I will carry on. It’s all or nothing.

It’s the same for those silly soft toy grabbers at the seaside. I know I won’t win one (does anyone?), but I’ll continue to put pound after pound into the machine in the off chance I’ll get a toy for my kids (who lost interest in what I was doing and no longer wanted a toy anyway).

That may be an easy way to waste £10, but when I was in my 20s I was a lot worse. Back then I used to play a scratch card or pop a few quid into a fruit machine. I don’t consider them proper gambling, I didn’t really consider myself to have an addiction. I wouldn’t play a fruit machine every time I saw one, I wouldn’t go out looking to play one, I was quite happy not to bother. I’m just an all or nothing guy – when I start I find it hard to stop.

The trouble really came when I thought that I’d just put one £1 coin in. It wouldn’t just be £1 though. It was followed by more; then the odd 20ps and 5p in the bottom of my pocket, then some change from my friends, and £20 from cash back at the bar.

I used to think I was invincible so playing a fruit machine was easy. I swear that I could tell what the machine was going to do next and I’d worked out the routine of the coloured flashing lights.

By the time I had emptied my pockets, I was adamant that the machine was going to pay out. Surely it had to as it had all my money and the longer I played it, the more the odds were in my favour of cashing out the jackpot?

There was one time I remember in particular. I was in the pub and I’d had a few drinks with friends. It was a karaoke night so the atmosphere was great. One of my friends had gone to the bar and another was talking to someone else so, being bored on my own, I reached into my pocket and took out a few shiny coins.

As easy as that, around £10 in change had disappeared into the machine. I had been watching it since we’d been in there and two other people had sunk in £20 between them so I “knew” it was going to pay out sooner or later.

I went to the bar to get a drink, and asked for £20 cashback. The note went straight into the machine and I tapped away at the button to spin the wheels. The money ran out far sooner than I had hoped and with a fuzzy head from the beer, I went back to the bar and asked for more.

Soon, more and more money was being put into the machine as I was patiently waiting for it to pay out big. I had won £8 here and £12 there, but I transferred it straight back as I was waiting on the big £100 jackpot.

I was boring for the rest of the night. My friends had come to find me, but I was glued to the fruit machine. I was counting the amount of moves I’d need to not lose again. They stayed by me, but begged me to just let it be. I’d borrow money off them to keep at it as I still hadn’t cashed anything out. The longer I played, the more desperate I got to win just something, but the buzz kept me going thinking that I’d get the prize.

The buzz started to turn into despair and it started dawning on me the amount of money that I’d lost. I needed to make that money back – I needed that money! I could feel trapped. I knew the money was lost, but if I put some more in then maybe I’d get back what I’d lost and I’d walk away even?

I ended up putting around £180 into that machine that evening. I had won along the way but it all went back in. I walked out of the pub skint and, as the evening air hit me, I felt hopeless as I started to comprehend that I’d spent my food budget and travel money to work for the rest of the month!

I was so caught up with the idea that I would win, that I didn’t give it much thought that I wouldn’t.

Really, for me, it’s the first £1 that starts off the need to have one more go. It’s stopping temptation to have that initial play. I have played on a fruit machine since (sometimes I win), but I know that there isn’t much chance.

Between when I was in my 20s and now (approaching 40!), my mindset on money and finances has changed dramatically.

I left my 20s in mountains of debt built up while suffering depression and piling on thousands of pounds in consumer debt. It took a lot to change my mindset and how I manage money – I never want to face being in a debt trap again.

One of the hardest things can be admitting there’s any issue in the first place, but without taking that first step your finances will keep going in the wrong direction.

If you need support for gambling issues then check out organisations like Gamcare and Gamblers Anonymous who can offer advice on gambling addiction. There are also forums where you can talk to other people in similar shoes to you.

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This article was checked and deemed to be correct as at the above publication date, but please be aware that some things may have changed between then and now. So please don't rely on any of this information as a statement of fact, especially if the article was published some time ago.

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