My addiction cost me £263k – I used to take out loans after losing my wages

A man has shared how he turned his decade-long gambling addiction into a social enterprise aimed at helping others avoid falling into the same trap as him. Aaron Abbott entered a betting shop for the first time when he was only 16 years old.

As he seemed more mature than his years, no one questioned him when he played roulette indoors and quickly lost £5. But that was the start of a slippery slope that saw him lose relationships, drop out of college and even hurt himself.

By the age of 29, the father-of-one had lost a staggering £263,000 due to his gambling addiction. And after reading the tragic story of how an addict committed suicide, Aaron began working to change his life.

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It was a slow process, but the 33-year-old will soon mark three years without betting. He set up a social enterprise to help curb his addiction and it has since taken off and allowed him to leave his job in contracting.

Aaron now works full-time at Against The Odds to help educate young people about the dangers of gambling, something he believes would have helped him when he was young. Speaking about his early days in gambling, he told BlackCountryLive: “Two friends asked me when I was 16 if I wanted to go to the betting shops and I’d never gone before.

(Left to right) Conor Martin and Aaron Abbott

“We all looked older than we were, so we knew we wouldn’t be identified. I put £5 into the roulette machine and lost it immediately. On the way out, I saw a bunch of old men filling football accumulators and I took a few slips home.

“Then I got into the social game, so I was making £2 or £3 every weekend playing football, even though I was underage.” When Aaron was 18, he won £4,500. “Online gambling didn’t exist then, so I got paid in £10 notes,” he said. “I put it in an envelope and kept it in my pocket for eight weeks. I wanted to have the perception that I had all this cash, so I just walked around with it.

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