A 13 year-old from Lancashire, London, has lost more than £80,000 (US$106,800) of his parents’ money after becoming addicted to online gambling, reported The Mirror.
The teenage boy, whose identity is protected, first saw advertisements for online gambling at a football match. He later set up an account online using his father’s credit card which allowed him to begin placing online bets straight away.
“It was just far too easy. I just had to put in dad’s name, address, date of birth and card details, and checked a box saying I was 18–it took literally seconds to register and start gambling,” the teenager said.
According to The Mirror, the teenager placed hundreds of bets on soccer matches and horse racing—staking as much as £3,000 at a time.
“I had no idea that gambling could be an addiction like smoking, drinking, or drugs. It seemed like fun and I thought I would make money too,” the teenager told The Mirror.
The teen’s parents learned of his gambling addiction six months later after they received a call from the bank with concerns about missing money and questionable transactions. By then, their son had gambled away £20,000 (US$26,700).
After confessing to his parents, the teen was sent to psychotherapy.
But according to The Mirror, the teen had a relapse several months later, squandering nearly £60,000 (US$80,200) in a week-long online gambling binge.
“I am sorry for what I have done. I feel like I’ve ruined everything and our lives will never be the same again,” the teen said, now 15 years old.
The teen’s father, 43-year-old company director told The Mirror: “We were just so angry, not just at him, but also at ourselves for having been naive and trusting.”
“It’s as bad as being a heroin addict–the lack of trust, the secrecy, the deceit, but without the obvious signs of drug addiction,” the father added.
His parents didn’t even notice that his grades at school were also being affected.
“I was spending around six hours a day betting or researching bets. I missed football training, I skipped homework,” the teen said. “Betting was the only thing I could think about.”
His father told the newspaper, “We had been so preoccupied with our own lives we hadn’t noticed his school grades going down.”
The teen’s parents, who have been paying off his debts for the past two years, told The Mirror they will never be able to trust their son again now that they are fully aware of his addiction.
They are sharing this story to warn others of the dangers to online gambling.
According to Britain’s Gambling Commission, the number of 16-year-olds addicted to gambling has risen by a third in the past three years.
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