The stories we'll tell you are as intimate as they are harrowing and moving. They serve as a reminder of man's fallibility and how trivial it is to take anything on in good faith and end up on the wrong track.
Michelle Singlehurst gambled £550,000 over the course of three years
Michelle Singlehurst had a comfortable life. She was putting in long hours at a job that paid her £25,000 per year, and her home was worth £440,000, more than many people earn in a lifetime. Michelle, on the other hand, enjoyed escaping into games.
Michelle cracked between caring for her husband, daughter, and elderly mother, who nearly died in a nursery home due to mistreatment, and playing Nintendo and GameCube games became online slots.
Online games suddenly didn't feel like such a bad idea. She will play for hours, waking up at night and signing back in to forget about her troubles. She had no idea if she had any money left at one point.
Michelle made the decision to care for her mother, and the family desired to relocate to a new home with enough space to care for Michelle's mother. The family's original home was sold, but Michelle had no intention of keeping the funds. She had quickly spent the entire £440,000 on gambling.
Her husband, a good-natured guy with no tech skills who had been married to Michelle for 30 years, eventually discovered the truth, and things got messy. He blamed Michelle for her irresponsibility and lack of self-control, and he grabbed their daughter and left.
Michelle began drinking and taking pills while spending time with her friends. She overdosed on one of these occasions and was rushed to the hospital. Michelle said her senses were dulled and she felt nothing after a visit from a devoted doctor.
“You have a one-in-three chance of surviving,” the doctor said, adding that Michelle's liver had suffered near-irreversible damage. It was at this point that she came back to life and made the decision to live.
Her husband began returning and taking her daughter to see her. He was gradually forgiving her. Is this the end of the story? It's almost there. Michelle has returned to her family, but they have a large debt to pay off. She managed to lose £550,000 in three years and, in her own words, the family would never be able to afford a home.
While this addiction story can serve as a reminder to us all of the irreparable damage we can cause ourselves and others through our gambling addiction, it also serves as a good redemption story.
Sharon, the lady who stole her daughter's piggy bank
Since 1992, Sharon has battled a gambling addiction. Pokies have become a big part of her addiction. Despite the fact that she initially considered video poker machines to be dull and even "stupid," she became a victim of circumstances when they were introduced to her local pub.
She returned home one night and got into an argument with her husband over something she wasn't sure she remembered. So she went back to the pokies bar to "dust it off," because it was the only place where it was socially appropriate to go alone.
Sharon was blown away when she won $190 on the pokies after just a short session, and she was astounded that the games could really pay out money. A simple win is how the majority of gambling addiction stories started.
Sharon agreed to make pokies her full-time career after that faithful argument, and she spent the next five weeks playing, wanting to postpone work while pokies were there as a replacement.
Sharon began to learn of families losing their savings, maxing out their credit cards, and even getting their homes repossessed by 1995-1996. Sharon was better after her husband left as her addiction escalated and she didn't have to hide around as often.
Sharon concluded that at the height of her addiction, her husband didn't matter. Who are her pals? What about her own children? None of them were significant. Sharon only had one goal in mind: to feed the beast, but with only AU$0.85 cents in her bank account, she knew it would be difficult, so she went to her daughter's room one night and took her Piggy Bank money.
Her daughter awoke when she walked out of the bed, startling Sharon and causing her to drop the money. She dashed to the garage and stood there until her daughter arrived with the pennies she had picked from among the broken Piggy Bank items, which she handed over to her mother before returning to the pokie machines.
£500,000 loosing streack in 30 years
Denise Bradford had been married to David Bradford for 35 years when she learned about his gambling problem over the phone from a solicitor who informed her that her husband had been sentenced to two years in jail and was making his way to Liverpool.
Denise was initially devastated, but she eventually found the strength to forgive David, who had been fighting alcohol for 30 years prior to the incident. Denise, a full-time housewife, had no idea about David's struggle until she received the faithful call on a Friday in April 2014.
David had racked up a £500,000 debt through 21 loans, remortgaged the family property, and stolen a total of £53,690 from his boss to feed his dependency, which had been pressing him to commit further – to the extent that David couldn't afford to repair his house's boiler only weeks before that faithful call.
Denise and David's plight is without a doubt one of the worst gambling addiction stories ever told. They are both in their 60s and already have a pile of loans that they will have to pay off for the rest of their lives while surviving on pensions. David's story is partially inspiring, if not because he squandered their life savings, than at least because he had found it in himself to keep on.
He joined Gamblers Anonymous and signed up for counseling services while in jail. They've started a foundation with his son, Adam, to support other addicts who are going through similar or worse recovery stories.
Aaron Traynor, who has struggled with addiction since the age of 13
Nobody is immune from the "hungry beast" that gambling addicts use to characterize their addiction. Aaron Traynor's addiction story is not one of the worst you'll ever read, but it is an important reminder of how often people who "have it all" can be quickly seduced by the lure of gambling.
Often, it's not about wealth, but about a visceral, unthinkable rush. Traynor's gambling addiction began in his early teens, when he was 14 or even 13 years old. He used to gamble on ponies, greyhounds, and football matches, and it got worse when he entered university and got college loans.
Apart from taking out loans, he even took up work in order to feed his gambling addiction even more. He attempted to wean himself off after being aware of his situation, but nothing proved to be a reliable enough solution. He joined Gamblers Anonymous and began attending meetings, but his desire to gamble remained unquenched.
“I really wanted to risk money every single day,”
Traynor said, admitting to wasting at least £15,000 a year over at least ten years. Traynor did, however, finally excel in weaning himself away from gambling, changing his values, and breaking up with a bad habit that cost him a lot of money and mental anguish.
True, his story isn't the most dramatic story of gambling addiction you've ever read, but it's a clear example of how, even in the darkest of times, we can find a way out.
Ted Ngoy, the man who went bankrupt twice and came back rich
This isn't your average worst gambling addiction story. The story revolves around a young man's desire to be with the woman he loves, as well as the struggles the couple encountered while living in the United States, far from their homeland.
Ted Ngoy, better known as "The Doughnut King," was a Cambodian refugee who snuck into the heavily guarded villa of his ex-wife, Suganthini Khoeun, the beautiful daughter of a high-ranking government official, and spent 45 days hiding in her bed.
Faced with such a resolve, Suganthini's father agreed to let the lovers be together, and the wedding took place later. However, in 1970, Cambodia was engulfed in civil war, causing Ted and his family to move to the United States.
When Ted first arrived in California, he saw people lining up to buy doughnuts and coffee, which ignited his natural entrepreneurial instincts. He approached a woman working at a doughnut shop and asked if a $3,000 deposit would be enough to buy the shop.
Instead, she encouraged him to enroll in Winchell's – a doughnut business – training program, which he did. Ted soon learned everything he needed to know about running a doughnut shop, including not just baking but also accounting.
After a year of training at Winchell's, he opened his first shop and worked diligently, accompanied by several more profitable openings and leases to other refugees.
Ted's company started to take off, with Suganthini at the counter, working 12 to 17 hours a day, and the tale might have ended here if it hadn't been for Las Vegas, the location that would be Ted's downfall – for a time.
He was quickly drawn to casinos, where he began by placing small bets of $10 and $20 at a time. Ted left his house, doughnut empire, and family to be able to play more and more, and that easily turned into $5,000 or $7,000 per game.
Ted now acknowledges that it was a disaster. He'd take out loans from the people he'd rented his stores to. Then, if he couldn't pay them back, he'd just sign over the stores.
His desire for peace motivated him to join Gamblers Anonymous, a support group for compulsive gamblers, but, as Ted put it almost anecdotally:
"I cry. Everyone cries. Then we go back gambling.”
They were eventually reduced to a single store. They agreed to sell it, and Chris went to get the money – $85,000 stashed in the trunk of a car that had been reported stolen because Ted had fallen behind on payments.
Chris was arrested after being pulled over and taken to the police station. There was no money in the trunk when he was released. Speaking to an interviewer, Ted said, "It's a very, very sad story." Ted wanted to pack his belongings and return to Cambodia because he had little left in the United States.
Ted had to flee Cambodia shortly after 2002, bankrupt and facing political repression, and his overseas Republican friends had completely forgotten about him. He arrived in Los Angeles with no more than $100 in his pocket and no love or help from his family to back him up.
What began as a harmless gaming session in Las Vegas has turned into a roller-coaster of events that has compelled a happily married man to have an affair.
With no money, he moved to Thailand, where he was contacted by an old acquaintance who needed Ted's help with a real estate deal.
Ted secured the deal and received a sizable fee, which was followed by a slew of other opportunities that Ted landed as a result of his business savvy, good nature, and integrity. As a result of his newfound prosperity, he remarried and had four more children.
Viktor Gjonaj is facing 20 years in prison and $19 million in losses
In his personal life, Viktor Gjonaj was doing well. Nonetheless, his gambling addiction caught up with him. Gjonaj, the operator of Title Plus Title Services and a savvy financier, has no excuse to end up in this situation. Nonetheless, his is one of the most heinous financial stories, when he defrauded taxpayers out of $19 million to fund his addiction.
And his preferred drug – the Michigan Lottery. Gjonaj was spending up to $1 million on Lottery Daily 3 and Daily 4 tickets, hoping for a big win that never came. U.S. Attorney Matthew Schneider has little sympathy for the client, who he said had inflicted financial damage to many innocent individuals.
Nonetheless, his attorney, Steve Fishman, has been defending his client's case, portraying what transpired as one of the worst gambling relapse stories ever and demanding that his client get treatment.
Gjonaj's tale began in 2010 when he believed he had found a sure-fire way to win the lottery, but by 2017, his debts were in the millions and well exceeded what he could cover without taking money from his customers.
Fisherman said that the state lottery was well aware of Gjonaj's addiction but made no attempt to curtail or assist him. In other words, Gjonaj's gambling addiction tale, according to Fisherman, could have been easily prevented.
Gjonaj had no hope of surviving imprisonment or getting his debt forgiven. Can his story serve as a reminder of one of the worst things that can happen if you allow your gambling addiction to run wild.
Paul Pettigrew loses £25,000 a year due to gambling
Paul Pettigrew's relationship with gambling was not especially good. Rather, he went to a casino for the first time when he was 18, which is the minimum drinking age in Scotland. However, what seemed to be a harmless visit would quickly turn into one of the worst gambling addiction tales a young man could experience.
Though Pettigrew's losses were not particularly large, he was a young man who gambled away a significant sum in just four years, sending £100,000 down the casino drains to fuel his compulsive addiction problem from the age of 18 to the age of 22. When Pettigrew was 21, he realized he couldn't keep pretending any longer and told his parents about his addiction.
To his delight, his parents understood, to the point that they enrolled him in therapy and sought out professionals to assist their son in breaking the habit, which he did. Though the story does not have the same heartbreaking conclusion, Pettigrew was a young man who exhibited tremendous self-control and was in the right position.
Pettigrew would have ended up in a worse position if it hadn't been for his parents. He is also dedicated to assisting people in overcoming their addiction.
Matt Blanks, who lost £700,000 during a ten-year period
We also have our own ideas about what constitutes the worst gambling addiction stories. For the most part, far-reaching financial consequences are one of the simplest ways to identify a story that can act as a wake-up call to us all. Matt Blanks' dabbling in gambling soon became tragic, when he blew through £700,000 in ten years.
The funds included a £100,000 pension from his grandparents and £200,000 from his father's investments, a heinous misappropriation of funds amassed over the years. Blanks' story began slowly, as it would with the majority of gambling addicts. It included a massive 33-to-1 victory on a horse he managed when he was 15 and his grandparents took him to the races.
With his parents separating, Blanks began going to the race tracks more frequently than ever. Yet, it wasn't until he was 15 years old, when he blew up a £1,000 inheritance from his grandmother, that he knew he needed to pay it back, and that's when the chase began, costing him hundreds of thousands of pounds just a decade later.
He persuaded his father that he had devised a scheme that would allow him to outsmart the bookies and increase his winnings. Blanks, on the other hand, had spent £150,000 in two months and had little to show for it. He struggled to share his story because he felt inconsolable remorse and humiliation as the debt piled up.
However, his gambling addiction did not prevent him from having relationships. Blanks had a wife and two children by 2013, but his gambling activities continued to spiral out of control.
He had 15 gambling applications installed on his phone, and he would conceal the bank statements from his partner. She also suspected Blanks of having an affair with her. She eventually discovered the truth and confronted Blanks, who wanted to help but never did.
Things started to fail, and Blanks began to believe that the world would be a better place without him. He attempted suicide but was unsuccessful, and it was at that stage that he reached out to others for assistance.
Since 2018, Blanks hasn't set a single bet. His addiction story could easily have been one of the worst, and it is in many aspects, but he also managed to find a path forward.
The accountant who misjudged his gambling losses by £125,000
At the time of the crash, a 42-year-old accountant from Birmingham was left with £125,000 in gambling debts after failing to be restrained by casinos in the United Kingdom. The victim's identity will be kept private, but her experience should serve as a wake-up call to all of us.
Because of the pervasiveness of online gaming, it is extremely easy for everyone to fall victim to the habit of gambling, not only recreationally or as a means of leisure, but compulsively to the point where few other choices are accessible.
Being the victim of a £125,000 gambling loss should not have happened to a wealthy white-collar worker. After all, the victim was a qualified specialist with a background in numbers. However, gambling addiction still manages to persuade us otherwise.
Sure, this accountant's tale isn't the worst, but it demonstrates how quickly we can be pushed in the wrong direction.
Jack Richie and the end of a young man’s life
Gambling can instill an overwhelming sense of guilt and shame in those who are enslaved by it, feelings that, when combined, can lead us to commit heinous acts. Borrowing money or getting into debt is grim, but losing one's life before it begins is even more depressing, and unlike financial debt, it cannot be fixed.
This is exactly what happened to Jack Richie, a young 27-year-old man who took his own life after struggling with gambling for five years on his own. Nonetheless, Jack's story should serve as a reminder to all of us that when people are addicted to gambling, they are sometimes more concerned with the psychological consequences of their behavior.
A sense of inescapable dependence and relentless frustration that obliges you to return for more. What happened to Jack Richie is without a doubt one of the worst gambling addiction stories, not because he accrued a £30,000 debt, but because he felt voiceless and powerless in the face of a habit that should have been handled out of him.
Jack is not the first person to take his own life as a result of gambling and gambling debts. However, as governments improve their efforts, there is hope that he will be one of the last.