Problem gambling is having an addiction to betting and continuing to do so despite the negative consequences. According to Spun Out, there are 40,000 people in Ireland who have a gambling addiction with 40% playing the National Lottery regularly and 12% of adults see a bookmaker every week. Here is the story of one athlete who has recently come forward about his gambling problem.
Irish footballer for the Hearts club Kyle Lafferty has battled with problem gambling for a good portion of his life. As a teenager, Lafferty would hang around arcades in Northern Ireland playing slot machines. Then as he got older, he would be betting on anything even if he knew nothing about the sport such as horses, dogs, virtual racing, ice hockey, and roulette. He would be up to two or three grand but then lose. He had a few close friends who knew about his gambling addiction but never knew the extent of it. His gambling went out of control on February of last year when Lafferty was at a bookmaker’s office in East Kilbride for 35 minutes betting and losing on horses and dogs. Because gambling is illegal for footballers, Lafferty was charged by the Football Association and pled guilty. He had to pay a fine of £23,000.
Lafferty hit rock bottom recently when a betting company closed down his account after he honestly filled out a questionnaire that was on the site. While initially enraged at the company, he realized that the company was just trying to help him. Lafferty spoke to Sport Chance clinic which helps athletes who are struggling with addiction and has been seeing a therapist in London every one or two weeks for an hour. He gets support from his coach Austin MacPhee, his manager Michael O’Neill, and his football team.
MacPhee got in touch with former Arsenal and Wales striker John Harston who also battled addiction which led to him and Lafferty attending Gamblers Anonymous meetings together once a week. Lafferty admits that it was easy for him to gamble before when he would finish training in the afternoon and then have a lot of time on his hands for the rest of the day. Now he fills up that time playing golf. Lafferty hopes that his story will inspire other athletes to come out about their addiction and do something about it just like Lafferty is.
Smarmore Castle Private Clinic in County Louth, near Dublin was founded in 1988 as a residential rehabilitation hospital treating people suffering from drug and alcohol purposes. Smarmore Castle believes in helping patients lead a life of abstinence through 12 Step programs, detox and medical treatment, psychotherapy, and complementary therapies. For more information, please call 041-214-5111. For those who live out of the country, the international number is 00353-41-214-5111.
Last updated & clinically assessed 30 March, 2022