Spike in online gambling during lockdown - how addicts can get help
- Problem gamblers can talk to counsellors 24/7 in SA on a toll-free helpline
- The South African Responsible Gambling Foundation says calls have spiked during lockdown
- A UK gambling addict shares her ongoing story of recovery and how she had to take out loans of almost R2m
South Africa's Responsible Gambling Foundation has reported an increase in calls for help during lockdown.
In the UK, a study by Bristol University found online gambling among young people surged as the Covid-19 pandemic kept people confined to their homes.
Weekend Breakfast host Sara-Jayne King interviews a recovering gambling addict from the UK who lost close to R2 million (£100,000) due to gambling online.
Kerri Nicholls recounts how gambling started innocently enough with visits to the casino where she limited herself to spending £30.
Within a few years Nicholls had added betting on football matches.
Her story came to a head when she ended up with the loans totalling millions of rand.
Nicholls' partner gave her an ultimatum - stop gambling or I leave you.
For a number of years I was still in denial, even in terms of the amount of money I was losing... The only point where I truly realised it was an issue was when I spent the credit limit on my credit card... but even then I don't really think I really believed it was a problem...Kerri Nicholls, Recovering gambling addict
I wasn't aware of the impact it was having on me mentally or the impact it was having on the relationshipKerri Nicholls, Recovering gambling addict
Bizarrely my knowledge of addiction was really good because I used to work for an agency supporting people with drug and alcohol issues... but, naively, I didn't understand how someone could be addicted to gamblingKerri Nicholls, Recovering gambling addict
Obviously now with hindsight... I can see it really was for me definitely a form of escape... The embarrassment for me was that I had such a good knowledge of addiction and yet I was still able to go down that route myself.Kerri Nicholls, Recovering gambling addict
Nicholls' dad had taken out a loan to consolidate the debt she had and she promised her partner she'd stop gambling.
However, she couldn't stick to her promise.
When she finally confessed to her mum, it was seeking help that got her to turn the corner.
We certainly thought that if we deal with the financial side, if the debts are paid off, then that will be the problem dealt with, but obviously with hindsight that was very much ignoring ignoring the reasons why I was gambling in the first place... It was a lack of understanding about the addiction and thinking that gambling is a financial addiction whereas there's always a lot more going on...Kerri Nicholls, Recovering gambling addict
I'd been feeling suicidal and thinking about how I could end my life... I placed my last bet on the fourth of July and I knew everything was coming to a head...Kerri Nicholls, Recovering gambling addict
I had such a sense of fear that everything was going to come out but also a sense of relief that I could finally get all this stuff out there that I'd been struggling with... That was really the starting point of my recoveryKerri Nicholls, Recovering gambling addict
Opening up was really difficult, but it's been key to my recovery... It's helped me to see that I'm not alone; there are so many people that also struggle with this addictionKerri Nicholls, Recovering gambling addict
Now Nicholls talks about how she feels to her parents, partner and friends.
It's important that wherever you are in the world to know there is that support out thereKerri Nicholls, Recovering gambling addict
Is South a nation of problem gamblers?
Sara-Jayne interviews Noxolo Adonis, senior treatment adviser at the South African Responsible Gambling Foundation.
Adonis says the Foundation classifies referrals according to provinces and confirms a spike in online gambling since Covid-19 struck.
The provinces that have the highest number of referrals of problem gamblers are Gauteng, Western Cape and KwaZulu-Natal.Noxolo Adonis, Senior treatment adviser - South African Responsible Gambling Foundation
In their big cities there is more economic activity... more casinos, more hotels... That's one of the main reasons why they have these big numbers of gamblers.Noxolo Adonis, Senior treatment adviser - South African Responsible Gambling Foundation
[With the lockdown] people opted to gamble online... There was an increase in the number of people calling... with withdrawal symptoms you get frustrated because you don't know how to cope with what's happening in your body.Noxolo Adonis, Senior treatment adviser - South African Responsible Gambling Foundation
Adonis lists some of the red flags loved ones should look out for which include gambling online during work hours, gambling when feeling stressed and spending less time at home with family.
People take loans that are far above the salary they receive monthlyNoxolo Adonis, Senior treatment adviser - South African Responsible Gambling Foundation
I would say that we need tougher regulations in South Africa in terms of people looking into illegal online sites because they are increasing each day.Noxolo Adonis, Senior treatment adviser - South African Responsible Gambling Foundation
If you or someone in your circle is struggling with a gambling problem find helpful information at responsiblegambling.org.za.
A counsellor can be reached on the toll-free number 0800 06 008 which operates countrywide 24/7.
Scroll to the top of the article for the audio to listen to the interview
Source : https://previews.123rf.com/images/danieeldg/danieeldg2101/danieeldg210100023/162002974-young-man-playing-with-his-computer-on-betting-websites-online-casino-poker-roulette-life-style-winn.jpg