Stories On The Consequences Of a Gambling Addiction

Last Updated: July 6, 2021

Many gambling addiction stories start out innocently enough—a trip to the casino here or there, a few good wins, then a loss or two.

Then something happens. The same chemicals in the brain that cause a person to become addicted to alcohol or drugs soon start to react to the act of gambling in a similar way. A person feels a “rush” when he or she gambles, and because of this desire to experience the same rush again and again, starts to lost control over how much time or money he or she is spending on the ‘hobby’.

Gambling Addiction Horrors

Many people have a hard time understanding how or why people develop gambling addictions in the first place until they are caught smack dab in the middle of their own gambling addiction horror story. These are some personal stories about the strife, turmoil, and devastation that gambling has caused for gambling addicts and their families.

Mary’s struggle with gambling

Mary started off playing the slots as a way to relieve stress, to have fun. Eventually, though, she found herself going to the casino three or four times a week, losing hundreds of dollars with each trip. She wanted to stop, but by this time, Mary says she was “on auto-pilot.” Before she knew it, she no longer had the ability to control how much time she spent at the casino or how much money she was spending on her gambling habit. Once she ran out of money, she took out cash advances on her credit cards. But that money went to the machines as well and she found herself unable to make any credit card payments, let alone payments to make up for the cash advances.

Once she got back on her feet and things were looking up again, her curiosity got the best of her and led her back to the casino “just to see what would happen.” Within four days, she had overdrawn her bank account, causing the bank to close it out.

After that, she began “borrowing” funds from the company to which she was president and chief executive. Since her eyes were the only ones to see what went in and out of the account, she figured she would take some here and there, and pay the amounts back when she could, all without anyone knowing. It didn’t take long for her to borrow more than she could repay.

Don’s sports gambling addiction— personal stories about a broken marriage and tainted childhood memories

January 3, 1983, will forever be ingrained in Dianne’s mind as the night her husband, Don, started their family down a long and winding path of deceit, disappointment, and disaster. That Monday night, the Minnesota Vikings were playing the Dallas Cowboys. Don had placed $1,500 bet on the game…and lost.

After that game, it wasn’t long before Don’s debts began to pile up and reach unmanageable levels. As Don explained to his children that their video cassette player was broken—and that’s why the men were here to take it back— he was only telling the first of what was to be many lies in order to conceal his gambling addiction from his children. They eventually found out anyway.

Don’s betting expanded to more than just football. Soon, he had his own bookie. “I bet every day of the year except the Monday and Wednesday before and after the baseball all-star game, the only two days of the year when there was no sports betting,” says Don.

When Don’s bookie was the focus of a police raid, federal agents showed up at Dianne and Don’s home. This was a wake-up call for the family; it told them that Dad’s sports gambling addiction was worse than they had imagined. Dianne packed up the kids and left the house.

Seeing an empty house made Don think he was ready to quit betting. In 1986, he began to attend Gambler’s Anonymous meetings and convinced Dianne he was done with it all. Dianne questioned his resolve when she found a piece of paper with a list of football games one night when they were on vacation. He told her that they were old games—he didn’t gamble anymore. After minimal research, she realized the schedule was for the current season.

He forged his wife’s signature to take out loans to pay off gambling debts. Don learned how to kite checks between three different checking accounts, essentially loaning himself large amounts of money interest-free by writing bad checks between the accounts, and then clearing the checks with more bad checks, and so on and so forth. Don found himself visiting one banker or another on a daily basis. “I could at least relax on the weekends when the banks were closed,” he says.  Don rushed home from work daily to beat the mailman to the house in fear that his wife would see any bank statements.

Eight years after his first GA meeting, Don canceled plans with a friend and got his shift covered at work covered so he could stay at a casino.

When Dianne didn’t get Don’s afternoon call (which came every day like clockwork), she knew something was wrong. When Don finally called, he asked if she would mind if he cashed in another $100 check. She told him, “Do whatever you want, stay as long as you want, I don’t care.” She felt too defeated to argue it anymore.

When Don came home late that night, the bedroom door was locked. He knew he had screwed up bad.

Because of all the pain he had caused the family, every broken promise big or small, his daughter refused to let Don attend her graduation or her wedding.

Anyone who says ‘gambling isn’t a deadly addiction’ doesn’t know this story

Many gambling addict stories end with mountains of debt, broken marriages, and lost opportunities. The story of Jihad Hassan Moukalled of Farmington Hills, Michigan has a much more tragic ending than all of these things combined.

H. Moukalled had amassed more than $60,000 in credit card debt and had caused his own printing company to sink deep into debt, once mentioning to a neighbor that the business was more than $500,000 under.

After returning from a three-day trip one November night, Moukalled wrote out a suicide note, and placed it on the kitchen table, held down by salt and pepper shakers. The note read: “I never ever had a bad intent toward anyone. I think that I was gripped by the hope of ‘one more shot.’ I did not know how else to escape what I got myself into. It is over.”

He then proceeded to suffocate each of this three children—daughter Aya, 7; son Adam, 5; and daughter Lila, 2—as they slept in their beds. Afterwards he shot his wife, and then himself.

Apparently, at some point during his most recent trip, he had asked his company to deposit $85,000 into a bank account, hoping he could transfer the amount to a Vegas casino. The bank wouldn’t honor the check.

Even if the bank had taken the check from a company that was already more than $500,000 in debt, it wouldn’t have covered eveb half of the $225,000 in torn-up casino markers that police found in Moukalled’s home during the investigation of this gruesome murder-suicide.

Gambling Addict Stories — Admitting There Is A Problem

Randy reaches for help with his gambling addiction

“Approximately ten years ago I wrote a short story about myself entitled “The Bobber. Yes, that was me just bobbing along in all directions in the middle of an endless ocean. I kept a vigilant lookout, hoping that someone would save me by throwing me a lifeline. All those lines out there and none of them were close enough to grab onto. I was really tired after years of bobbing along and began looking forward to when I would eventually begin to sink into total emptiness. My writing cried out for help, but no one heard it…

“Since being in recovery for a number of years, I’ve heard similar stories. Not knowing exactly where we were supposed to be and who we really were. Today I’ve just learned to accept that I am where I am supposed to be, one day at a time and doing the next right thing. As for those “recovery lines” … well, I found out that you actually have to swim out to get them and grab onto them. They don’t necessarily come to you. But once you grab them, never let go.” — Randy

Mary resolves to come clean about her gambling addiction

Mary sat in her car outside the casino, contemplating her situation, fighting the urge to go in and find a chair. Gambling had become an ‘emotional chore’ for Mary; something she felt she had to do because she knew she had to do something to try to get back all the money she had lost. Then she started to look at the bigger picture. She thought about her future: “I was so scared that I was going to end up doing this for another 20 or 30 years. I was scared that I was going to get fired from my job. I was scared that I was going to end up in jail.”

Mary started the engine, backed out of her parking space, and drove straight to her work. Again, she was apprehensive. Mary says, “I didn’t want to admit I was a compulsive gambler. I didn’t want to say it out loud. It’s hard to admit you’re a liar and a cheat and a thief.” But that’s exactly what she did. She told her business partner everything that had been going on.

Don realizes he’s lost his family to his gambling addiction

The night after coming home from his trip to the casino—after his wife told him she didn’t care what he did anymore—morning came and went, and the following night Don went back to Gambler’s Anonymous. The previous night would be the last time Don ever gambled.

Gambling Addiction Stories that End with Recovery

Mary gets a second chance to reclaim her life, her job, and her self-respect

With the support of her company, Mary decided to attend a Gambler’s Anonymous meeting. As she looked around the room, she had a hard time believing that any of the people there had ever been compulsive gamblers, simply because they all looked so happy. She acquired a sponsor, but it soon became clear to her that she was going to need more than a few nights each week at Gambler’s Anonymous meetings to get herself back on track.

Mary checked herself into a 30-day rehab program in Canton, South Dakota, which she says saved her life. In being surrounded by recovery addicts in GA and in the treatment center, Mary realized she wasn’t alone in her struggle. “I kept thinking I was something special, that my situation was unique,” Mary says. “But I wasn’t, and it wasn’t.”

She also went to go face her old co-workers; almost immediately after coming home, Mary went to meet with her company’s board of directors. Mary was absolutely terrified. “These were people I had lied to and had manipulated…but they gave me a second chance.” Mary has slowly started to pay back what she stole from the company to prove her commitment to both her job and her recovery.

After 18 months of being in recovery, Mary still attends GA meetings a couple times each week. She says having recovering people in her life helps her to stay on track because she knows she’s not alone.

Vern finds help for his gambling addiction in rehab

“I’m a compulsive gambler. That was difficult to admit when I attended my first GA meeting. But it was even more difficult after I had relapsed.

“I had stopped gambling for more than three years when I succumbed again to the compulsion of gambling. It was at this time that I knew I needed more than a weekly GA meeting to get me on the road [to] recovery. I searched the web for places that concentrated on compulsive gambling and found Williamsville Wellness. I contacted the center, and Bob called me. With his encouragement, I applied and have never been sorry.

“Apprehensive at first, I was welcomed by the staff and other compulsive gamblers throughout the four weeks I was there. Bob’s staff is incredible—top shelf all the way. They challenged me, listened to me, guided me and encouraged me to see the true inner self and the possibilities that had been hidden by my own behavioral patterns and compulsive gambling.

Today I am on my road of recovery, thanks to the staff at Williamsville Wellness. What I gained there was worth the time, the financial investment, and the work to get me back on track. — Vern

Don’s journey to redemption in recovery for his gambling addiction

Don has been religiously attending GA meetings ever since his turnaround.

Don has done a lot of work to gain back his family’s trust. He has even reconciled with his daughter, who banned him from having anything to do with her early adult life.

Even 17 years into his recovery, Dianne still cringes internally when she sees Don flip through games on the television because she still remembers with clarity the days when her husband would be checking the scores of games he’d bet on.

After years of GA meetings and marriage counseling, Dianne and Don have gradually repaired their relationship. Don is thankful that GA helped him to get over his gambling addiction, and overcome it at an age where he will still be able to repay his debts, and hopefully start some sort of savings account. A former gambling addict with a savings account—what a beautiful picture.

Page Sources

  1. National Research Council (US) Committee on the Social and Economic Impact of Pathological Gambling. Pathological Gambling: A Critical Review. Washington (DC): National Academies Press (US); 1999. 5, Social and Economic Effects.
  2. Fong T. W. The biopsychosocial consequences of pathological gambling. Psychiatry (Edgmont). 2005; 2(3): 22–30.

Published on: December 23rd, 2016

Updated on: July 6th, 2021


Leave a comment

  • gabriel kenya
    true i’ve been an addict to gambling and alcohol for a decade now but am sure to quit through Gods help.
    • jun sarmah
      same problem with me bro i loose everything now i m lonely broken relationship empty bank account i dont know what to do
      • Faith
        Mate, STOOOOOP!!! RIGHT NOW if you can….. please, I’m urging you. It’s NEVER TOO LATE. Thousands of gambling addicts have lost perhaps worse than you….. but they all made it to Recovery and have stopped gambling for years. Don’t know what to do? Attend G.A. meetings first up, then take it from there. I wish you courage, my friend.
      • eddy
        take out a loan and REINVEST
  • Benny
    Gamble since 21 to 31 and nothing to show for. Hit rock bottom and girlfriend left, no debt but had no saving. New partner 31 to 40, house paided off, no debt , no gambling. How? Pay all the bills when get paid from work and transfer all the rest to the mortgage and live like I’m broke. Partner work as well and do regular checkup on bank a/c.Two beautiful young kids and happy wife. Don’t want to be poor again.
    • annoymynos
      great story really strong words thnks for posts
  • Gabby
    I wish if i never gamble in my life lost everything now I’mstarting from the scratch.
  • David Offor
    I have had a lot of losses. I wasted all my money paying and purchasing tickets, of which non turned out to my advantage. I’m really broke now and I sincerely want to start up a new life.
  • Rebecca
    I’m feeling totally lost at the moment due to 28 years of gambling I’ve lost two marriages today I lost my work and I have to raise two kids on no income I’m scared we don’t have any help centers where I live
  • Me
    I am 29 and can remember the first big win I had on vlts 10 years ago… aftervthst I was hooked. Got introduced to online gambling and even when I win big I throw half back in. My gambling has gotten to the point where I’m missing car payments are moving my budget and bills around because of my addiction. I barely make it by sometimes yet I have a good job. I have 3 little ones and i hate the guilt i feel when i spend our money. Today I decided I’ve had enough. I shut down my online account and am going to come forward to my loved ones and hope to get the support I need from them before I lose anymore.
  • mike
    no more lies .i can’t live like the anymore.spending countless hours wasted in a casino,shuffling money around to pay the bills.the casinos can kiss my **s I’m done!!!!they use trickery to get you to lose your hard earned money.nooooo more!!!Im done!!!!
  • Tiawan
    As I sit here and read all of the confessions I really wish I would have read these months ago. I’m a compulsive gambler, there I said it and actually I really never had a problem saying it to certain people. When I think back over the last ten years I have failed myself by not getting help and today is the day to structure my life around something other than money. I stopped for a year and told myself it was ok to go every now and again and that is when it started all over again the lies and the empty bank accounts. After winning 8000 on the first of July then 30000 on the 17th of July I found my accounts empty yet again after going and spending 5000 and losing then a few days later another 5000 until after 3months all and then some was gone with nothing to show for it but debt from not having the taxes taking out. I wanted to jump off the ledge as I walked down to my car, what in the hell was I thinking after wanting to purchase a home and now no money for the down payment and here I sit broke in debt and for what? I was hoping and praying I would win and after failed attempts, I didn’t get the hit you can’t beat, predict, hope, pray, or will a machine to win. I can’t do this anymore to myself or to anyone else, now that I am about to get married I need to stop and realize life is more than this addiction. This addiction builds you up when you win and breaks you down lower than low when you lose. If you are reading this anyone STOP JUST STOP AND THINK IS IT REALLY WORTH IT? Is it worth the lies, the broken spirit, the friendships, the relationship, the marriage, the debt or the suicide thoughts that sneak in after you’ve had a really bad losing streak? Just be straight with yourself and realize you can’t go it alone and you need support. Don’t take any credit cards out your house, don’t have more money than is needed to fill up your car and buy a snack on you, don’t have your saving account be in the same town that you live in or a card to access it, don’t receive any mail from any casinos, don’t play the slot or poker games for fun on any electronic device, don’t communicate with anyone who plays and when the subject comes up about it remove yourself from the room. Don’t drive by or stay at the hotel, use comps, or go to have a drink at the bars…do absolutely nothing that will trigger the thought of a casino visit. If you need to make extra money or feel like you’re strapped for cash get another job to take up the time, work out, find a new hobby, talk to friends, go sit in a church parking lot, speak with your pastor, review what is important, and remember what you have to lose if you should dare find yourself at that point. Place cash advance blocks on credit cards and no linking of saving to debit cards. Have that person you have disclosed your addiction to and call them with the code word that lets them know you are feeling the urge to go and have them remind you what you have to lose and how you can overcome that time so it can pass. I know I have that person and it only works if you call before going and not after. I went today and lost a lot and I see how the greed, need, and the want for more money will only have you trying to get rich quick and you end up broke and alone. I would rather work and find new ways to gain more income than to get back to the point where all my credit cards are at max and eating noddles to get by while working day in and out just to make ends meet. Love yourself enough to know there is a better way and through treatment, friends and family, hard work, distractions, and a positive outlook on life you can manage this because it can’t be cured only managed over time and it’s a struggle but we can do it, I believe we can.
  • Troubled
    I am new to admitting my problem. I know I need to tell my husband but I am terrified. There is part of me that would rather die then tell him the truth.
    • Cathlynn Spalding
      Thank you sooo much for sharing!!! I hope you are doing well. I am just at the point of admitting I have a problem and hearing your story moved me.
  • Tim
    Yeah, I just lost 5k in 2 weeks and I’m done. They are scammers because online casinos is too good to be true. They have FIXED chip to win in their favor. When they feel they can afford to lose little then they will let people win as to entice them thinking they will win more but end up losing more. JUST STOP and I guarantee you will feel little better after 3 or more days. Shift your focus to different things like save money to begin with. Gambling is like a cancer. It doesn’t stop eating you up!! Just stop. Don’t play at all sportsbook and casinos. Say STOP ALTO!
  • Kristina
    I hate gambling! I got hooked on it in 2003 when I won $50 on a 50 cent money bag machine. For the last 17 yrs this is the longest I’ve stayed away from the casinos. There are 8 casinos within a 10 mile radius of my house! It’s been over 3 weeks since I spent money on gambling. I feel great! And the best thing is, this virus going around saved me because there’s nowhere to gamble. I suffered what felt like gambling withdrawals the first week. Then the second week I felt depressed. Third week I felt good. Now I’m starting my fourth week and I feel in control of my life, happy, and peaceful. If I live through the pandemic, one good thing will come of it. I am never going inside a casino ever again.