While some people can stop gambling on the first try, many relapse. Sometimes they relapse multiple times before they feel confident that they will not gamble again.

Gambling is established in how their brain functions and what they use to cope. This means it is easy for their gambling to start up again. People may relapse when exposed to gambling or gambling advertising, or if they are under stress.

I don’t know what the trigger was because I did feel as though I was in a good place and not really thinking of stuff like that. I really don’t know what the trigger was. Sometimes I look at it and think, well there’s quite a lot of times, and everyone’s in the same boat it is tight sometimes with money and sometimes my wife will come home from shopping even, food shopping and say like, “Oh, we’ve gone over again.” The budget, say £70-80 budget food and it’s come to £90 or whatever and, “It’s a nightmare, this. We can’t keep doing this. We’re going to have to start cutting down on stuff.”  Then I might be perhaps going out and having a few pints. Then she’s like looking at me and though, “Well, hold on a minute. I’m paying this extra for the food. You are going out for a few pints. This isn’t fair.” Again, I look back and I think, yes, I’m not a selfish person, I know I’m not, but at the same time where stuff like that’s concerned, I obviously have been because I should be putting my family first and saying, “Well yes, hold on a minute, I can’t be spending £20-30 going for a drink when we need food or we need essential stuff.”

I think, again, perhaps that was in my head a lot where you’re thinking we are struggling a bit, we’ve not got money, ooh, I know, how about if I start trying to win money? I’m thinking I probably thought like that again, without thinking I am, I’m thinking that’s probably been in my mind as though there’s a way to perhaps get money and then be able to say, “Yes, here’s some money, you can do this, you can do that. Or let’s go out and do this.” When really, it’s just masking the situation. You’re not going to be better off. Again, you’re going down that horrible life which is just going to ruin and upset more people. I think again, it just escalated.”


A crisis period or stressful situations prompts some to start gambling again. For example, the death of a loved one, relationship breakdowns, or stressors at work, trigger some people to relapse.

I felt left and alone and isolated. So, the gambling kicked in again because I couldn’t deal with the reality of what life was throwing at me again. No more than I could cope with it before. I think with life’s shit that happens, to me, it was like a tsunami of emotional turmoil that through, you know, manifested into the gambling in the first place. And the same emotional toil that I couldn’t, my brain just couldn’t compute anymore would throw me into, you know, relapses.

During the Covid-19 lockdown period some people relapsed. They felt isolated and bored during this time and this led them to gamble again.

And then back sort of last year, probably just over a year ago, it was in lockdown and as I was saying before, because I’ve got MS I was classed as high risk. So, I was like isolating completely on my own for a lot of the time. I spent three months living in an attic on my own and basically getting supplies thrown up the stairs once a week. I had joined GamBan or GamStop or whatever it is that sort of bans you. But I was so bored in lockdown, and I found a way around. I found a loophole. So, I was able to start gambling online again, which was an awful thing. And so, yeah, I got back into it, probably about this time last year when and I spent a couple of months – it was never as bad as it was years ago, but it was getting pretty bad. I was losing more than I could afford and it made me go sort of very insular and it turns you into a horrible person. It’s all you can think about.


Some people must contend with gambling still being a part of their everyday activities. Like in their working environments and social circle. Some say that this exposure to gambling in social situations has led to relapses.

The fact that I was one of these people that can’t do it. Not everybody. There is a growing number of people like myself, but yes, not everybody can do it. People can gamble and gamble safely. That’s really good, but gambling is an addiction. When I’ve had a relapse since I’ve had my kid and I didn’t think it was something I’d ever do. Once I had my kid, I thought I’d be gamble free and that would be the end of it.

I had people saying to me, “You’ve got a kid now. You need to think of your kid. You can’t gamble.” At the time I wasn’t gambling. At the time I was clean for a while, a long time, and things were going great, but I ended up getting complacent. I moved from my job as a landscape gardener into the office. This is where at the start of this meeting, I referenced I was going to use this later on about being in the office. I’m going to go back to that now in terms of the major relapses, the two relapses I’ve had, I went three years and I’ve had two relapses in the space of a year, all coincided when I moved into the office. What had happened was I’d moved back into a gambling environment. I got myself out of one through that group I mentioned earlier on and I had actually left– people dispersed and went their own ways, but then I actually left that company and went to a new company and everything was great. Everything was great. I then moved into the office. I had the opportunity to do so, and I took it with both arms and thought this was going to be the best thing since sliced bread, and an opportunity to progress as I’ve wanted to. Not long after I took it, six months later I had surgery. Even before that, I retract, I’ll go before that. As soon as I moved into the office, I realized a lot of people were gambling. Everyone was doing the lottery. There was a lottery syndicates. A lot of people was entering the radio competitions. People were doing bets on like the horses. My own bosses and colleagues were gambling on stock exchange, gold, silver, and cryptocurrencies, which is now the new one.


When people try to stop gambling, they are faced with multiple gambling advertisements. This is often unavoidable. For some this has triggered them to start gambling again.

But then obviously lockdown, the shops had to shut and there was no way I really wanted to continue that because there was nothing to do. I was stuck in the house. They started having sport on the telly. They started playing football again and again all the adverts start, and I just wanted to just do what I did before. Just have a bet and it was fine. So, I thought I’d be able to do that and I’d found a loophole where I was sort of able to go around [block] and start betting on my phone

Compared to anything else, it’s horrible. It’s the worst thing ever. And it’s so readily available. It’s like there’s no hiding from it. It’s like you just can’t. Every time you turn on the TV, the radio, it’s just everywhere at the moment. It’s just, there’s just no escape from it. And yeah, it’s like, it’s like living in hell. Honestly, it’s horrible. It’s not nice, but yeah, hopefully it’s behind me now. But yeah, I know I’ll always have this battle.

Others have continued to receive offers and promotions from gambling companies.

And during August 2014, I went to see a counsellor like an NLP counsellor and told her what I thought I needed help with and deep down, I never really wanted to stop then. I thought I did, but I didn’t. And I lasted until January. Sort of January. And during that time, I was still getting like free money, free bets that I was just withdrawing. So, I was just withdrawing the free cash that was put in my account, just like a wage. Every month they’d send it, I’d take it out, send it, take it out, sorry every week, take it out, take it out. And in January of 2015, they said that I couldn’t take this £5,000 out. I had to gamble with it, play with it, and turn it over. You know, if they did that to me now, I’d tell them like do one but then I just felt, okay, let’s do it, like, let’s do it. That was it. It was like a moth to a flame and all of the feelings, and like I said that time, I never really wanted to stop. It was like a battle to stop. Not as easy as it was when I did last reach out for help. It was a fight. So, it was like a green light. You know, you can do this. You can do this


For some, the barriers they used against easy access to gambling or the money to gamble with are no longer in place. For example, a blocking tool has expired. Or they may have opened a new gambling account with a company they have not self-excluded from.

After stopping gambling for a period, some people feel ready to have ‘only one bet’. This leads them to start gambling heavily almost immediately.

I remember I saw an advert at the time for Virgin, Virgin Gaming, Virgin Betting whatever it were called. I can’t remember. And I remember thinking to myself, I thought do you know what, I don’t think I’ve ever had an account with them. And so, I thought well I’ll just see if I can open an account and I did. I opened an account with them, and I thought brilliant, I’ll just put a football bet on. Sorry, I’ll have a bet on the darts. I put a couple of quid on the darts. So that’s what I did, couple of quid on the darts. I thought brilliant, no problem. That’s easy. I’m alright with that. And then I thought I was doing… this is how daft it were I was trying to sort of safeguard myself. I thought right, so that I don’t spend more time in the app I’m going to put a football accumulator on, but I’ll put it on for a week ahead. Something like that. Normally, I’m the gratuitous, instantaneous one with that gratification. Give me it there and then. So, I was even trying at that point to think right I’ll put this like a future bet on, so I don’t have to think about it. I don’t have to be in the app. So, I put a football accumulator on for X amount of days ahead and a couple of quid on darts. Again, like I were thinking… And then darts finished, and then I was suddenly sat there then. Darts has finished and I’ve got access to this brand-new gaming account, betting account. And the next thing you know I’m on the blackjack tables. This was before the credit card ban came in, so I was doing this on my credit card. And I spent a few thousand pounds on my credit card just in the matter of a few hours on the blackjack table


Needing more

Some people describe their “heart not being in it” when they initially try to stop gambling. Some aren’t ready to stop. Some have only stopped because of encouragement or pressure from others.

I self-referred myself to the Problem Gambling Clinic in London, which was great and would have been fantastic for me had I really put my heart and soul into it and wanted to be there. I was in a bad place where I’d already told my family twice before that there had been gambling problems, and I’ve been bailed out of debt issues and stuff. When I say bailed out, I was always paying them back. But, you know, my dad always looked at the financial side at that point, he didn’t realize that – he does now, actually, he’s on my podcast if you want to listen because he’s on and he talks about like from the family side and what he realizes that he should have done, rather than what he did do. Where he was just worried about the financial side and truly believed I wasn’t going to gamble again, didn’t realize the addiction side of it, you know, the illness side of it. And I went to a Problem Gambling Clinic because I think I thought I have to. I’ve got to prove to my family this time I’m doing something about it. Went there, it was a 12 session CBT course. It was really good. I didn’t go to all the sessions; I didn’t do the homework. I spent some of the time in a pub instead of going, the Toucan, quite often around the corner in London which is a nice little Guinness bar. That’s where I would be some of the weeks. And the reason I didn’t stop gambling was because I was too scared to stop drinking is the honest fact. I couldn’t stop gambling until I stopped drinking


Some people have said that putting blocks in place is not enough alone for them to stop gambling. They need help with the underlying root cause of why they are gambling.

I deleted the apps on my phone and this sort of stuff, and putting some tools in place which I’d recommend. I’ve done that for a bit basically. Then the counsellor, I remember saying that’s the easy bit. But again, at the end of the month I got paid and straight away I just gambled. That month it just went, and that was it.

She literally gave me my bank card back. I started gambling again. She was touch or go whether to end it, because she was like, “How am I supposed to trust you now?” I said, “I’ll suffer any punishment, whether you want to break up with me, whatever, I’ll suffer it and I’ll take it,” but I didn’t get the… It’s all right taking a bank card off a gambler, but it doesn’t solve what’s up here. It sounded like I was probably making excuses, but I said to her, “I didn’t go to any GA meetings, I didn’t see a doctor, I didn’t do nothing. You just took the bank card off me, and I carried on with life when I should have got all this help.” What I’m getting now, mainly just GA, and I just said to her, I said, I’ll go GA.

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