People’s studies and work life are harmed by gambling difficulties. People can struggle to focus and concentrate at their studies and work because they are consumed by gambling. Their performance can suffer. Business owners may gamble with the money in their business. People may not progress as they should have. They may struggle to pass or drop out of studying, lose their jobs or career or business.

This can have long-term effects on their employment opportunities and prospects after gambling. Sometimes, the mental health damage from gambling leaves people unable to work. Some may have to work overtime or take on an extra job to try and pay off debt.

Problems with study and work add to the financial harm during gambling, and into the future. This can affect the person’s ability to recover from gambling harm, and to improve their own and their family’s socio-economic position. Work difficulties also undermine people’s health and participation in society.

During Gambling

People have explained how their gambling difficulties affected their performance at work. People tend to be distracted from their studies and work with constant thoughts of gambling.

Sometimes, people are so driven to gamble, work or studying can feel like a ‘barrier’ that is in the way of gambling. However, they need to work to have the funds to gamble. Some end up using student loans or funding. They may continue to gamble at work or studies and think about bets they have placed before. They may rush to get the job finished, so they can go and gamble. They may be late or absent.

Others do not want the gambling thoughts and urges that keep distracting them.

People’s work and studies are also affected by the stress of money worries and the harm gambling causes to their mental health.

I finished gambling with about £16,500 of debt. As a student, you can’t afford that. I’d miss lectures, so it took me two extra years to finish university because my life was just taken up by gambling. I wouldn’t go to lectures. I’d miss deadlines. I’d make up all sorts of reasons why I couldn’t submit something because I’d spent the day before where I should’ve been doing work, I was just gambling.

Was I actually present at work? I was doing my job. Was I giving it my all? I was literally sitting there betting. It’s all I thought about day and night, continuously. Everything else just seemed to be an absolute barrier. It was in the way. I knew I had to go to work. I knew I had this relationship. I couldn’t just leave. Bills had to be paid to a degree, but it didn’t matter. Wherever I was the minute I found the online casinos, that’s where the gambling happened and that was my priority.

I’ve always been good for attending work and things like that, but I wasn’t focusing. I wasn’t focusing on it. I would work from six until twelve in the morning, go to work, have my break. When I’d have my break, I’d be on my phone, but I’d be putting on a bet. In a way, it did impact it in a way really. Even though I was attending work, I wasn’t really participating. I wasn’t giving it the full attention that it deserved, really.

Really, it just pulled me in big time. I was just on it all the time and including at work, which I feel, unfortunately, if my work had a really good firewall, I wouldn’t have been able to do that, but because they didn’t, that’s down to me abusing their trust, really. During the day when I was at work, I was constantly betting or certainly, doing it at the side.
I wouldn’t say– I don’t know if I could have done better at work or whether it affected my work, but certainly I was preoccupied and distracted at times by betting and that constant stream of sports events and horse racing, which had evolved by that time to the all-weather tracks, evening racing, Irish racing, occasionally worldwide racing. It was just too much choice and too much temptation for me that I found it really hard to resist.


I was worried about money. Even though I had money but obviously I’d gambled it all. Just the shame and constantly thinking about them slots and football gambling constantly. I couldn’t get it out of my head. It’s that dopamine, isn’t it? Part of your brain, isn’t it? I felt shame, you know, depressed because of it as well. It got to the point where I couldn’t even– even in my job I couldn’t think straight at all when I was working.

I had a job originally. I started when I was 18, through until I was about 33, 34. I think I did it for about 15, 16 years or something like that. I used to travel all over the country with that, like jumping in and out of rivers and reservoirs, fitting measuring equipment. And it was really good, and they were really patient with me because there was lots of situations where I obviously I would be working away and I would lose all my money so I couldn’t pay for the hotel or whatever or my food and stuff like that. And again, you have to make up these excuses. You sort of lie; Oh, you know, I’ve had this bill I’ve had to pay you or something. You haven’t really, you’ve lost all in the bookies. And they were very patient. Why they didn’t fire me long before I don’t know because there were times where you just weren’t thinking about the job. So, I’d go off with the job to do, and it was like, get it done as quickly as I can to. I don’t care if it’s bad quality. It was just getting the minimum done as quickly as possible so I can get home and get to the bookies or whatever it was or, you know, get back, get back to the hotel so I can get my laptop and start playing poker or whatever it is. And they were really patient, but it really did affect my job. I could have done quite well at that. Well, funnily enough, my health put paid to it in the end. I still wouldn’t be able to do it anymore. But yeah, I mean, I could have gone on to have quite a good career in that, but I really stalled because I just used to do the bare minimum because all I could think about 24/7 was gambling.


Business owners can have more access to the money in the business than those who are employed. Gambling can lead them to running out of money and impacts the product or service that they are selling.

The pressure from the debt and all that sort of stuff. When I had my shop, it was a catering company and shop, there was a period of time where less and less stuff was going on the shelves. Or I was pulling stuff forward to make it look like the shelves were full, but there wasn’t a lot behind it. So, the stock was running down. You always think it’s never going to happen to you.

Often, people do not tell their employers that they are experiencing gambling difficulties. This is because they fear how their employers will react. They worry they may lose their job.

I thought I was unique. I didn’t think anyone had gone through what I’d gone through. And I wish, back in 2019, I had been more brave, to not just be a voice. But I was frightened at that time. I was frightened of losing my job. I was frightened to bring -any sort of disrepute to my boss, and of losing my job, which was, you know, my, I needed a job.

Some said that their gambling difficulties harmed their career progression. People do lose their job or lose their business due to gambling. This adds to the financial harm they are experiencing from gambling. Some even end up homeless.

I’ve always been a hard worker, and then socialized and things, but I remember getting an apprentice as a carpet fitter. I suppose my eye was on other things as well and life was spiralling downhill. I needed to do something constructive and try and get myself into an area of life where I was going to succeed. At 22, I went and joined the army. I became a Royal engineer, a Sapper. Even when within there, I’d end up in the local NAAFI bar and playing the bandits and just wasting money. You’re on a monthly salary, and it wasn’t a lot of money when you first started, but you’d see your money just dwindle away. Also, with going on tour over to Bosnia for six months, you could save up to £10,000, £11,000 within that six months by not spending, but over there as well, bandits, playing poker, all those sort of things. I was always a part of it, whether it’s a social side of things or not. Probably that cost me my career in the army as well, because I just wasn’t in a good place at all.


I won the top end of 90 odd thousand pounds in an afternoon, and I thought I’d landed the big time. I thought if I can make half a million instead of that, that would have sorted all my debt out at the time, it would have bought me a van for the business. We could have gone away on a nice holiday, but my first thought was let’s try and make it half a million, and then I’d have really landed. That would never have done me any good because I would’ve just spiralled. Spiralled out and gone for the million or whatever, so I lost all that money in four days and then [inaudible]. That’s when the business started to really… to try and win back the 90,000 that I’d lost, I started lumping money out the business. And then it only like three and a half months later I’m homeless.

Nick #2

Some struggling with their finances may be driven to crime in their workplace. This may result in them losing their job.

So, from when I left school and throughout my working life, I’ve lost eight relationships through gambling. And it reached rock bottom 22 years ago. I stole money from a patient, and so I ended up being sacked by the NHS.


People losing jobs or not progressing as as much as they should have has long term consequences for their financial position and that of their family.

That’s probably the most amazing thing, actually how I’ve managed to hold down a job all these years with that going on as well. I’ve never excelled in any of the jobs I’ve had because I’ve always had this other thing going on in the background, but I’ve had some very understanding employers and yeah, it’s been OK, but it’s without a doubt affected it. It’s, you know, there’s people who I used to work with have gone on, been promoted and they’re doing quite well now, whereas I always stayed on the same level because I wasn’t throwing myself into the work, I was throwing myself into gambling, basically.


For some, the enduring mental health harm they experience from gambling difficulties results in them becoming unable to work.

The effect it’s had on my mental health has been dreadful. It’s to the point where I’m signed off work at the moment. I’m due to go back in January, but I’ve had to get a lot of counselling and had to seek professional help to recover from it. And it’s almost like, it’s been described to me as a kind of PTSD kind of thing. So I have this kind of trauma now from all those experiences.

Many face large gambling-related debts. This means that some people may need to get a second job or do overtime to pay off the debts. This leads to stress and less time spent with friends and family.

I was meant to go and visit one of the lads in question recently. Well, about a month ago now. Maybe month and half ago. I’d said, yes, originally, and then I remember texting him saying, “I can’t make it. Look, I’m working all hours at the minute.” Which I still am to pay off me debts. I’m working a lot of overtime, things like that.

Get Support

If you feel like you need support or someone to talk to about your own or someone else’s gambling, there are several organisations who can offer help, support and answer any questions you may have.

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We are inviting people to share their experiences of any kind of difficulties due to gambling.