‘I was going down a dark route’: Young people on fighting gambling addiction

‘You cannot win in the long term. Bookies will not allow that to happen’

TW: Gambling addiction, suicide, depression

Nick went to a casino with £1,500 and after two days, he ended up leaving with £10,600. It was the biggest win he’d ever had.

He took the money and went on holiday to Bali, but unfortunately, his gambling problems weren’t going to go away.

“That win was the worst thing that could have ever happened to me,” Nick told his 3.3m TikTok followers. “Every time I made money, I lost money. It was a bad place. I was going down a dark route.”

Luckily for Nick, he’s managed to turn his life around and hasn’t placed a bet since November 2020. Now, he’s encouraging others to not make the same mistakes he did.

@repnicktvReply to @safc_ftm13 my gambling addition. #foryoup #foryoupage #4u #tiktok #fyp♬ original sound – RepNickTV

The gambling industry makes 60 per cent of its profits from problem or at-risk gamblers

The NHS defines problem gambling as “gambling that is disruptive or damaging to you or your family, or interferes with your daily life.”

Like Nick, many problem gamblers begin at an early age. The Gambling Commission estimates there are 55,000 children who have a harmful gambling problem.

There are 330,000 adult problem gamblers and 44,000 adults at risk of going down that path. And shockingly, the gambling industry makes 60 per cent of its profits from problem or at-risk gamblers.

The Tab spoke to a few young people who’ve overcome gambling addictions and are looking to warn others away from making the same mistakes they did.

‘It just sounded like you can win money easily’

@betfreehazStay out the casino kids 😬 #fyp #foryoupage #gamblingaddict #casino #gamblingtiktok #recovery #recoveringaddict♬ mrblocku says no more fortnite – ethan

Harri got hooked on scratch cards when he was at school, progressing to football bets in the bookmakers when he turned 18. “It just sounded like you can win money easily,” Harri told The Tab.

But once he was there, the roulette machines also took his fancy and got out of hand very quickly. “The stakes get bigger and you start risking more. It just gets out of hand that way,” Harri told The Tab.

Harri got a job for a year prior to going to uni and was also coaching football on the side, the extra cash allowing him to place bets as high as £1,000.

“When I was working full time, it was easier to cover up because I was getting paid monthly and getting cash in hand from football each week as well. But at uni I couldn’t cover it up,” Harri said.

‘Whenever I wasn’t working, I was gambling’

Matt Zarb-Cousin, a former problem gambler who now campaigns for greater controls on gambling, also got into betting at a young age.

Matt got hooked on slot machines during sixth form, saying, “Whenever I wasn’t working, I was gambling.”

It’s no wonder therefore that when Matt’s student loan dropped, one of the first things he did was place a bet. “All of a sudden I had all this money and was in the bookies pretty much every day.” Matt told The Tab.

In one single day, Matt lost £2,500, which at the time was all the money he had.

‘Gambling affected my life in every way possible’


Matt at his graduation

Harri also lost big while at uni. In his second year, he ended up losing all of his money, resorting to taking out payday loans and selling his phone and laptop. His mental health deteriorated as gambling started to “affect his life in every way possible.”

Matt also experienced mental health problems as a direct result of gambling. The inability to place bets due to having no money led to intense withdrawals and depression. “You can’t escape, because gambling is what you use to escape from these problems,” Matt told The Tab.

And one day it got so bad that Matt even considered taking his own life. At this point, his family stepped in and Matt went into therapy. After six weeks of therapy and one relapse, Matt managed to stop gambling aged 20.

But the problems didn’t stop there. The following two years were really tough as Matt describes the “residual problems” left over after you stop gambling.

“It’s fine to treat the addiction, but once that process has happened, and the person has come through the addiction and stopped gambling, it doesn’t mean the problems have stopped,” Matt told The Tab.

‘If the videos get big, other people can realise they’re not alone’

@betfreehazFew early signs of gambling addiction 😐 #fyp #foryoupage #gamblingtiktok #sportsbettingtiktok #recoveringaddict #addiction #gambling #foryou♬ Let Go – Ark Patrol

All the people The Tab spoke to haven’t placed a bet for a good while and are feeling much better for it.

Harri said he doesn’t “crave it anymore” and that making TikToks about his gambling problem helped him on the road to recovery.

He couldn’t have imagined how popular his videos would get, with many of them garnering hundreds of thousands of views. “If the videos get big, other people can realise they’re not alone,” Harri told The Tab.

Nick also documented his history of gambling and recovery journey on TikTok, proudly telling his 3.3m followers that he’s managed to become debt free and put his life of gambling behind him.

‘You cannot win in the long term’

Since stopping gambling, Matt has been a prominent figure campaigning for greater regulations within the industry, setting up Gamban, a software you can install to block yourself from online gambling, which now has over 85,000 users.

When asked what his advice would be to young people thinking of gambling, Matt said that he was never going to tell anyone not to bet but adds that people should know “you cannot win in the long term. Bookies will not allow that to happen.”

If you have been affected by any of the issues raised in the article, the NHS offers support for problem gambling. Other support services include Gamcare and BeGambleAware.

Gamban (software that blocks online gambling) is free through, a pilot bringing Gamban, GAMSTOP and Gamcare together.

Featured Image background: Credit: Nata789 / Shutterstock

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