Confessions of a former student gambler

‘I won £500 on the football and lost the betting slip in Crisis. I cried when I got home.’


Gambling is free money: you go to a bookies, put money in a machine, press a few buttons or write some words on a slip, then sometime later you walk out with more money than you started. You cannot lose. It’s impossible.

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The first time I gambled was when I was 17. A friend took me to Ladbrokes and I won £170 off £2 on a fake ID. I had no idea what I was doing or how I was doing it and around £100 of my winnings went back into that machine over the next week.

It’s a familiar story for most: you win big on one of your first times, and then you are hooked. Hooked on the belief that you can beat the machine and the dealer, hooked on the belief that your knowledge of sport is that good that you can’t lose.

I have learnt the hard way that you can’t win. I have since lost nearly £5000 gambling and the addiction is rife amongst students.

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Skinny prick

Student loan comes in and whether it’s after a night out where we haven’t pulled, or a dabble on the football, we end up gambling and, for the most part, losing.

Whilst I must accept that some people set their limits and keep to them, and the odd person is in profit, gambling doesn’t pay in the long run when the odds used are deliberately advantageous to the bookies. I can’t count the amount of times I have been a few hundred up and then lost the lot.

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I’ve had horrific weeks chasing debts. One week I lost over £1000 at Grovesnor and online chasing debts, and that made me feel sick. I also won £500 on the football and lost the betting slip in CRISIS. I cried when I got home.

The thrill of winning is what keeps people going back. It’s an amazing feeling to know you were right and have won money because of it. The feeling when the ball is spinning on the roulette wheel and you’re praying it hits your number is so addictive.

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These chaps have more money than sense

The risk of losing also adds to the addiction.  Gambling on a free iPad app is nowhere near the same feeling as sticking £20 on 0. Moreover, the relief when the machine calculates your winnings or the dealer dishes out your chips is almost as good as sex.

Gambling is so accessible; whether it is in shops, online, in the casino or on fixed odds machines in establishments such as Coral, it is everywhere and you can lose hundreds in minutes. Furthermore, gambling adverts are so common on television and the internet, they entice you in with “free bets”, and once you join you’re theirs.

You are bombarded with e-mails, letters and phone calls. Gambling is a billion dollar industry, purely because the house always wins. They are there to make sure you have a good time whilst taking your money.

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Trigger-happy with the fruit machines

Student loans have disappeared in days, wages in hours, and you end up chasing debts. “£20 more,” you say. Or, “I’ll win the £40 I lost back and then walk”. That’s when it gets dangerous.

It’s addictive, especially for us broke students. We have £5 left for the week on a Friday and want to go to Ocean, so take a quick trip to Coral to try and win enough for the night. We lose. We end up gambling more money and spend enough to have funded the night out in the first place.

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Trying to keep up with the high-rollers has its detrimental effects…

Friends get friends involved. One trip is all it takes. A “harmless” 5 minute trip to Ladbrokes or the Casino and you end up spending hours there, making it your second home.

I dread to think how much would be lost if a betting shop was allowed to open on campus or even near it. You hear horror stories of people losing excrutiating amounts of money. My friends have. I have.

People think they can crack the machines, they know the roulette patterns, “12 always comes up after 21” “17 after 34”, “multiples of 5”.

They come off sometimes, yes, but more often than not you’re scratching your head and there are so many patterns you could just about argue any number will come up after any number. One must remember that roulette in a casino is an even playing field, the odds are 1 in 37 of a number coming up.

The only way to get over gambling is not to start or to go cold turkey. I haven’t gambled since Valentines Day and it’s been hard, very hard. I don’t regret gambling, I just regret losing.

God I miss gambling.

This article was originally published on The Tab Nottingham.