My name is Padraig Bannon I’m 25 and I’m from Portarlington in Laois. I always thought my gambling started at 18 or 19 it but actually started a lot younger. From as young as, I suppose, eight or nine, when you’re playing local teams and you’re saying, “Oh, I’ll bet you a pound or a couple of pounds that we’ll beat you” and this kind of thing. Start play casinos online and there is a great benefits online casino free spins we found them by reviewing a lot of casino sites. And it started there, and it wasn’t a problem as such at a stage but as I got older it kind of became more and more of an issue.
And I suppose it started off when I got to about 16 or 17 then, betting on, kind of, the big race festivals and the football accumulators and that kind of thing. Small bets and I only had a little bit of money so it was kind of, again, it wasn’t an issue. But, as I started to, started working and that, and I had more money suddenly them bets became more frequent and higher stakes.
I still remember when I first, when I set up my first online account, I was in one of the lads. It was during Euro 2012 and it was free bets and all of that kind of thing. I said sure, it’s not even money money it doesn’t count. And then suddenly the free bets I think I won on most of them.
Then that money all disappeared then I started, “well sure I won before I can win again.” I could have spent all day in the bookies, I could have spent all day on my phone – that’s how easy it was. You could be sitting in a room with 10 or 15 people and none of them would know that I was gambling, because you’d just be thinking oh he’s on Facebook or Instagram or whatever. But it could be losing or winning an awful lot of money.
Looking back on it, it had an absolutely ridiculous effect on nearly all aspects of my life. From a social aspect just no money to ever do anything and borrowing money off people. But like the lads would be going out on a Saturday night, and up until eight, nine o’clock I’d be all set to go. Then suddenly all my money would be gone and I’d have some sort of excuse not to go.
Same with holidays. I could never really book a holiday because I never knew if I was going to have the money to go or not. That kind of thing and like that was a kind of a constant theme. And it affected my family life as much as anything and I didn’t see it at the time but I never wanted to spend time with my family. They were, kind of, there were nearly just an ATM that I could get money off every now and again. And I suppose that’s one of the hardest thing is that – I’m lucky that my family are still there so I can kind of mend them bridges.
I still remember walking into my first Gamblers Anonymous meeting. And I remember exactly what I was wearing I remember where I sat and I remember most of what was said from the meeting because when I went in I kind of thought, “do I have a problem or can I get, kind of, get through it myself.” And I just kind of sat there and listened for most of the meeting and it’s probably the first time in my life I actually listened to people and heard what they were saying rather than just, kind of, empty words. And it definitely changed where I was in my life because I was going down a bad road and it was only going to end in a bad way. So I was lucky that it didn’t end in a worse way than it did.
Some people have a lot of money and they like to gamble a lot of money, but it’s not an issue. They can start and stop whenever they want. I suppose if it starts to take over your life – for me I’d often would have gambled instead of buying lunch or gamble instead of buying petrol for the car and and everything seemed to revolve around gambling. And that was probably, could have been an indicator, should have been an indicator but I suppose when you’re in the midst of it it’s hard to see and as I say you’re always the last person to see it yourself.
And people around me probably could see, probably did see that I had an issue but I didn’t want to hear any of it so, don’t wait till you hit that rock bottom point where the only way is kind of intervention. If you feel you have any sort of issue whether it be with gambling or drink or drugs or anything else ask for help because I didn’t realise the support network I had around me until I kinda had to turn to it. I suppose people want to help and if kind of everyone’s got their own support network whether it’s their family or friends or whatever, there’s always people there to talk to. And if there’s not there are services.
So, I think reach out to them services before they’re kind of forced upon you, because there are people there that want to talk.