‘I was £10k in debt and tried to kill myself – online gambling should be banned’

by Raj Das

A gambling addict who accumulated £10,000 of debt is calling for online betting to be banned after being bombarded with 11,000 gambling adverts during one Premier League weekend. Freddie Nicholson, now 29, started gambling on football matches and horse racing as soon as he turned 18, which quickly led to an addiction and mounting debt. He eventually reached a point where he felt suicidal. Seeking help for his addiction and receiving support from his doctor, Freddie managed to become debt-free and hasn’t heavily gambled in years.

Freddie firmly believes that online gambling should be completely banned due to its convenience, which makes it easy for individuals to spiral out of control. He suggests that betting should only be allowed in physical shops or casinos. The call for a ban comes after research revealed that nearly 11,000 gambling messages were shown on live televised coverage, sports news programming, sports news radio, and social media during the opening weekend of the new Premier League season.

According to Freddie, if online gambling didn’t exist, he would have never started gambling in the first place. He states that the constant messaging around gambling and alcohol is a dangerous combination that almost cost him his life. He highlights that every advert seems to promote gambling, making it difficult for individuals to resist.

Freddie’s gambling addiction began when he lost all his birthday money, approximately £200, on football matches and horse races for his 18th birthday. The addiction persisted into his mid-twenties and culminated in a suicide attempt due to the mental torture caused by his debts. However, his life was saved when his mother took him to see a doctor the following day. He is now debt-free and focuses on mental health poetry through his podcast.

Research conducted by the University of Bristol found that during the opening weekend of the Premier League season, 10,999 gambling messages were identified across various media channels, including live televised coverage, sports news programming, sports news radio, and social media. Premier League clubs have already agreed to remove gambling sponsorship from the front of their match day shirts by the end of the 2025-26 season. However, Freddie argues that this is not enough because the constant messaging still creates the impression that sports cannot be enjoyed without gambling.

While Freddie has successfully overcome his gambling addiction, he continues to face the long-term consequences. Loans taken out during his addiction have negatively impacted his credit rating. He believes that online gambling is a major contributor to gambling addictions due to its accessibility, particularly when combined with alcohol. Freddie also takes issue with online casinos enticing individuals to start gambling by offering free bets or spins, making it difficult to stop once started.

Freddie concludes by stating that he wishes online gambling was banned and that it would be the one thing he would change if given the opportunity. He emphasizes that responsible gambling messages are ineffective, as individuals are well aware that most people will not actually gamble responsibly.

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