British woman Tracey Stevenson detailed how her gambling addiction caused her to accumulate significant debt.
She said that while working as an interior fit-out contractor, restaurant shop fitter, and account manager, among other positions, she stole from her employers to support her gambling habit.
“I’ve always loved bingo. I went every week with my mum since I was 18. Then I started playing online, happily spending about £15 a week.” Tracy told Metro UK.
“It all went wrong when I discovered gambling sites. Winning £50 here and there was thrilling – and then I won £220,000 in 2011. I couldn’t believe it at first but soon felt that if I could do it once, I could do it again.”
“I ended up losing left, right and centre but carried on because gambling became my escape from real life. I was having marriage problems and my best friend had died suddenly. It felt like living two separate lives.”
“Everyone knew I was doing it but I’d lie, saying I’d spent £50 rather than £10,000. And because I never actually saw the cash – it all went into my account on the website – it felt unreal.”
I was addicted, and when I ran out of money I started to steal from my employer. I was working as an account manager at a restaurant shop fitter and interior fit-out contractor, so it was easy.
The first time I stole was after I’d spent all my money on the slots and needed to go food shopping. I wrote myself a cheque for £100 and put a fake invoice through the accounting system.
From there it got worse. The biggest amount I took in one day was £50,000. I felt so guilty but couldn’t stop.
A year later, in October 2012, I won huge on the slots: £1.6million. I soon gambled it all away, though, because every time I lost, I honestly thought I could win the money back. When I didn’t, I kept on stealing.
Every day I’d go to work waiting to be found out, like a lamb going to slaughter. I felt so anxious all the time and the guilt was eating me up, but I got away with it for five years, taking £1.7million in total.
In the end, I couldn’t take any more stress and shame, and by Christmas 2015 I knew I had two options: own up or kill myself. Not being able to bear the looks of shame and disappointment on the faces of my husband and our three children, I wrote them a letter explaining what I had done. I put it on the side in the bedroom and left the house to end my life.
Then, as I was walking out the door, my son and granddaughter unexpectedly turned up. I told him I was fine, and after he left I decided I couldn’t do that to them, because I didn’t want my family to feel any guilt or blame. Instead, I confessed to my husband.
Understandably, he was shocked and angry, but also very supportive. He took the note I’d written to my bosses to show what a terrible place I’d been in.
Two days later the police arrested me at home. I confessed to everything. I felt overwhelming guilt and shame for everything I’d done to my family, my employers and my colleagues – but the relief at coming clean was phenomenal.