Although it’s New Year’s Eve and a celebratory day, we have a cautionary tale to bring you on this last day of 2014.
Marilyn Jones played online bingo for up to 15 hours a day for a decade before she realised she had a problem and looked for help.
The 42 year old first played online bingo in 2004 and she soon found herself getting addicted, and as a result fell into thousands of pounds of debt.
“In one of my first experiences with gambling, I won five numbers on the lottery.
“Then I started entering TV game show competitions and my phone bills rocketed, so that’s when I went online and registered for the bingo sites to get the free money.
“On my first time in an online casino I won £6,000. Two weeks later, on the same site, I won £11,500.
“Then it just spiralled. My losses were that great even if I won the jackpot it would only make a dent.
“Bingo was the first thing I thought of when I woke up, and the last thing I thought of at night.”
Marilyn admits she felt a buzz when she won, which fuelled her to keep playing – thinking she could win again.
However, whatever she won went straight back into the sites, and whenever she had a spare bit of money she would spend it on bingo.
Marilyn ended up losing her job, ruining her relationship and almost losing her children and her own life. She knew she needed to get help fast.
“I’d been reduced to nothing. I’d locked myself away from everyone because I knew what I was doing was wrong.”
Thanks to counselling over the last 4 months, Marilyn has been able to deal with her addiction.
Free charity Beacon is the one of the biggest mental health charities in the North West, and they offer services to help problematic gambling, and are funded through GamCare.
“If it wasn’t for therapy at Beacon, I wouldn’t be sat here today”, Marilyn admitted.
She was referred to Beacon by her social worker, who needed to see her get help for her addiction. She was seen by therapist Helen Kirby.
“July 2014 was my first session. I was wearing my pyjamas because I’d been up all night on the bingo, but I had to show I was doing something, so I went.
“I didn’t want to be there, and had no intention of stopping. I left Beacon and as I sat in my car I grabbed my phone to play bingo.
“But before I clicked on the site, I thought about what Helen had said.
“My first goal was to go back to Beacon in two days having not gambled once in those two days.”
Marilyn managed to achieve that goal, but still has to be careful.
“I still won’t have a bank card or the internet, because I don’t want anything to tempt me back to that lifestyle.”
Marilyn is still wary of relapsing, but is looking forward to rebuilding relationships and her life with the help of Beacon.
We at WDW think this is an important story to feature, as playing online bingo is a fun and often rewarding hobby, but as with anything, using it to excess can cause problems.
If you’re worried you may be becoming addicted, read here for further information. On our pages you will also find contacts for support and help.