I blew £70,000 in just four hours – I was completely lost | The Sun
A GAMBLING addict has revealed how she blew £70,000 in just four hours – losing almost two years salary in a single afternoon.
Christine Tolaini, 39, said her addition caused her to become bankrupt after she managed to max out all of her credit cards.
The hairdresser was first introduced to gambling when she was allowed to play on the 2p and 10p arcade machines and admitted that she always loved betting.
She went to Las Vegas at 21 and even got a time-share hotel room to visit once a year.
But as she entered her 30s she stumbled across more means to bet, Christine’s habit escalated.
In 2016, she became hooked on mobile phone game Rainbow Riches and over the new five years she blew more than £100,000 of savings, credit and winnings.
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During one week, she recounted winning £70,000, only to gamble the lot to in just four hours.
“I won the £50k jackpot that week but because I was a compulsive gambler, I continued gambling,” she told the Mirror.
“The worst thing that can happen to a compulsive gambler is winning, and I lost £70,000 in four hours. It was a horrible, indescribable feeling.
“I phoned my banks and told them I had a problem. I went to the doctors, but back then they didn’t know what to do and sent me away, so I phoned gambling charities.
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“Counselling helped and for a while I was clean.”
Despite reaching out for help, Christine started to relapse when she was bombarded with free bet offers during the pandemic.
And within months she quickly found herself back to square one.
“I hit rock bottom. I was hopeless and completely lost. I didn’t know how I was going to get out of it,” she said.
“I went to the doctors and they didn’t know what to do with me. I wasn’t eating, and I wasn’t sleeping, I wasn’t concerned about looking after myself.”
“I don’t even know how much debt I was in – it was thousands,” she said. “Someone should’ve been monitoring that I had eight credit cards and was losing that amount of money.
“My mental health was very bad so being locked in during the pandemic made it worse. I was very unwell."
Christine’s problem escalated to the point in bankruptcy when she maxed out all her credit cards in April 2021, having blown £10,000 in one day.
“I broke down and told everyone, including my family, that I was a compulsive gambler" she recalled.
"They were very supportive and very concerned to know it had been going on for years.”
“For me it was a distraction from emotional problems – a compulsion that made my brain calm down. It put strain on all my relationships.
“I was losing such extreme amounts of money and I can’t believe the banks were allowing me to have this amount of credit cards. I didn’t always think I would win but there was some excitement in the risk factor. I gambled when I was in a good mood too.”
The incident led Christine to finally reach out to Gamblers Anonymous and she now regularly attends meeting with other addicts as well as with a counsellor.
Despite still being in £60,000 worth of debt across 20 credit cards, she says she is on a road to recovery and insists she had not gambled since April last year.
“I’ve not overcome it and will always be a gambling addict, but I won’t live in fear again,” she said.
ON THE RISE
According to Gamcare, the number of women reporting gambling problems is increasing at double the rate of men, but only 1% of women who experience gambling related harm contact the National Gambling Helpline.
According to GambleAware, losing track of time, spending more than was affordable and keeping gambling a secret were key warning signs of an unhealthy addiction to betting.
GambleAware chief executive Zoe Osmond said: "Our research shows women may not be aware they are starting to experience harm from gambling or, may be worried about reaching out for support due to stigma or shame.
"That's why our campaign highlights the warning signs to look out for, so we can support women who gamble and prevent them from developing gambling harms."
Gambling addiction expert and counsellor Liz Karter said: "Gambling behaviours manifest themselves differently in women than men.
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"For example, we know the easy availability of online gambling leads many women to games which appear innocent and socially acceptable.
"While gambling doesn't always lead to harm, it's vital women are aware of early warning signs including losing track of time, incurring increasing debt, or a tendency to hide gambling from others or gambling to forget their problems."
Contact BeGambleAware.org for free confidential support or call the National Gambling Helpline on 0808 8020 133
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