I don’t have to look very far to find a gambler: I am a compulsive gambler myself.
First of all, I used to play poker. This became progressively more time-consuming. I began by playing for an hour or two every so often. Then it progressed to an hour or two every day. Eventually I was playing from eleven in the morning until midnight day after day. Inevitably my studies suffered. So did my home life. After I lost three months’ income on the turn of one card, I stopped. Just like that.
My wife was more than upset by my behaviour. I didn’t want to lose her. The choice seemed to be straightforward at the time. What I had not foreseen was that my addictive nature would simply express itself in other ways.
I went into property development. I bought two old cottages, did them up and sold them for a profit. Then I bought two more and was equally successful. Then I bought a farm and it was an absolute disaster. I had done well when property prices were going up but I came crashing down when the inevitable recession followed.
My bank manager had said that I appeared to have talent in this area. Of course I did. Everyone does when values are increasing. The skilled professionals buy at the bottom of the market and then sell at the top. They see it all as a business, not as a passion.
I was cleaned out. I was left owing more than our total assets.
I was fortunate to have my professional income so I gradually clawed my way back to solvency.
So, as property values increased again, I re-mortgaged our home and my office and built a rehab.
In the first year we lost our total financial assets but, as property prices had risen again, I was able to re-mortgage again and stay afloat.
That established the pattern for the next twenty two years. Each time we made a loss, I re-mortgaged. The home that I had bought for £4,600 eventually had a mortgage of £650,000. The rehab expanded and we built offshoots.
Eventually I had paper assets of many millions and I had one hundred and twenty staff.
In my personal life I was always very abstemious. I bought second hand Volvos. I rarely took holidays. I bought books rather than rich men’s toys that would decrease in value.
But I risked too much and trusted too much and that brought me down. Compulsive gamblers tend to give up their addiction only when they have nothing left to lose. That is precisely what happened to me. Sadly, yet again, my gambling addiction hurt my wife.
Gambling in casinos or on racetracks or in betting shops or online never appealed to me. My gambling was seemingly legitimate – but it was gambling none the less and I paid a dreadful price for that.
Nowadays, I work on my own, doing highly specialised and delicate work with people who are depressed or frightened or traumatised.
I look after addicts of all kinds, and I also work with their families. I have had the professional training and experience to know what I am doing in this field of work.
More importantly, I have had the personal experience to enable me to understand other gamblers instinctively and guide them towards putting it behind them.
I believe that I was born with an addictive tendency and I shall die with one.
But nowadays, I don’t gamble on anything, not even on the lottery. I do the things that I need to do each day to keep me free from compulsive behaviour.
I’m happy, at peace with the world, creative and enthusiastic. I don’t want to build an empire again, nor to take risks of any kind. I’m very content as I am.