Middle class mum Hayley Ringrose says she never dreamt she’d develop a gambling addiction. ut when her husband, Nick, 45, an IT manager, was made redundant in 2010, she went online and placed a small bet of 36p on Mecca Bingo.
The 34-year-old housewife couldn’t believe it when she scooped the £10,000 – and so her problem began.
She contacted us wanting to share her cautionary gambling addiction story, and we secured her a deal with the Sunday Mirror newspaper.
In the brutally honest account, Hayley admits she bankrolled her addiction by ploughing thousands of Nick’s hard earned money. She started experiencing mood swings and began to hide her addiction from Nick and would gamble in secret.
Nick blocked all the online gambling sites but Hayley says she’d find ways to unblock them and would gamble on her phone instead. Instead of buying essentials and household goods with money in their joint bank account, she was ploughing it into gambling.
Her addiction started tearing the family apart – with her girls Holly, 13 and Samantha, 4, having to forfeit school trips and family outings because they could no longer afford them.
Over the course of four years, Hayley, who lives in Hampshire, has ploughed over £100,000 into gambling and says the family are now in £25,000 debt from credit cards and loans she took out to feed her addiction.
At her worst, she was on the brink of suicide and told Nick she wasn’t coming home as he and the kids deserved better than her and she was a ‘useless mother’.
Today, gone are the days of expensive holidays or family outings out. The family are living in a rented three-bedroom terraced house – a far cry from their four bedroom semi-detached property they used to own. And despite Nick’s high earnings , the family struggle to make ends meet and couldn’t even afford a £4 school trip or a birthday present for Holly’s 13th.
At the moment, Hayley’s mum is paying their council tax which has left Hayley riddled with guilt but she cannot stop gambling. She says companies will try and lure her back in with all expenses paid trips to Las Vegas and fancy hampers from Fortnum & Mason. She says the government need to do more to stop luring users back in with fancy holidays and Fortnum & Mason hampers.
She says: ‘I classify myself as reasonably intelligent, and never thought I’d be the type of person who’d be addicted to online gambling. But I’ve fallen into a trap that has crippled us financially. But the worst is the lies, deceit and misery it has caused to our family. But despite this, I just can’t stop.’
Hayley wanted to share her gambling addiction story to raise awareness about how easy it is to slip into gambling. We’re now in talks with television programmes and women’s magazines who are also keen to feature Hayley’s story.