A clueless man drowning in £100k debt after five years betting on sports he knew nothing about
39-year-old Chris Bilham is boldly speaking out on the topic of gambling addiction, as he struggled with it for five years. At the age of 30, he decided to take a chance and bet money on a football match on an app he had downloaded. Little did he know that wasn’t going to be the last, and he went down a spiral of a destructive gambling addiction that left him with a £100,000 debt and excruciating suicidal thoughts.
“For me, it went from that app I downloaded to five years later sitting in my sister-in-laws house one night, having spent every penny I had, having taken loans out from the bank to wanting to take my life.” Bilham shares.
It started as a simple form of entertainment. Betting money on teams he was familiar with no longer sufficed, and soon enough, he began making bets on teams he had no knowledge about. He even mentioned that he made bets on Australian women’s league tournaments and horse racing, both of which were far out of his line of interest.
Eventually, online casinos spiked his interest, and Bilham would spend massive amounts of money playing slots, live roulette, and blackjack. At that point, he was just gambling his heart out - any content was enough to hijack his time that should have went to his friends and family.
“I’ve always been a big sports fan, and I was watching it on TV, and I noticed the advertising, and there were so many adverts at the time, of people having fun with their friends, and it made gambling look so very normal,” Chris stated.
He added that the primary reasons he continued gambling are the alluring advertisements and bonuses that convinced him he would be missing out on astounding opportunities if he didn’t give in.
Chris was also introduced to cross-selling on the gambling apps, which served as yet another bait for him to get more entangled in his growing addiction. He mentioned that he constantly thought about ways to acquire more funds for betting purposes, and at times it’s all he thought about throughout the day.
“It's so normalized within the world we live in nowadays. You see it all day, every day on the TV...Adverts tell you it’s fun; it isn’t. It’s terrible. It’s a massive public health issue.” Chris stated.
He highlights the need for operators to pay closer attention to people who are in the same boat as he was and believes they do nothing to prevent gambling addictions.
Eventually, Chris reached out for help after realizing how bad his addiction had become. At one point, he took out a massive loan and made £22,500 worth of bets in a period of two hours, which was the turning point of his story.
“I don’t want anyone to have to go through what I went through,” he stressed when sharing his testimony.
Against all odds, Chris was able to beat his addiction with the help of professionals and has stayed away from any gambling activities for more than three years. Piece by piece, he got his life back and is currently co-hosts a gambling addiction recovery podcast called All Bets Are Off, where he openly talks about the struggles he went through. Chris is also co-founding a non-profit organization called TalkGen, solely run by individuals who walked a mile in a gambling addict’s shoes.
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