‘As long as you’re losing money they don’t care’: Geelong man’s warning after online gambling addiction saw him land in jail

Gambling Help Online on 1800 858 858

  • National Debt Helpline on 1800 007 007
  • Lifeline on 13 11 14
  • MensLine on 1300 78 99 78
  • The Geelong local had never touched a pokie, wasn’t interested in the bookmakers, but the lure and ease of mobile sports betting on AFL and horse racing was his undoing.

    “Sports betting destroyed my life, half a million dollars was wasted and the house we built was sold while I was in jail,” Stockwell told ABC Sport.

    “I spent 40 years building up a good name, that’s ruined. The betting agencies are unscrupulous, as long as you’re losing money they don’t care.”

    His life and addiction rapidly spiralled out of control.

    “I was quickly punting every day of the week on my phone, was able to take out 10 credit cards while earning Centrelink income, then the bills started to come in and I didn’t have the money,” he said.

    In the grips of addiction, he was convinced he was one bet from making it all go away.

    After diverting cancer charity donations into his own bank account to pay off his debts, Stockwell pleaded guilty to 13 counts of theft in 2020.

    “Having a few wins made me believe I could do it all the time, but you’re going to lose nine times out of 10 — they’re made for you to lose,” he said.

    The temptation is ever present, with sports broadcasts splashing odds at every break, team jerseys and stadiums plastered with sports betting logos, and catchy slogans and celebrity endorsements popping up on every mobile or computer screen.

    “You can’t avoid it. It doesn’t matter how much you try, it’s still constantly in your face,” he said.

    “If I hadn’t been to jail I would still probably be gambling.”

    There is growing concern Australia’s love of sport is transforming into a gateway to gambling and some fans and sporting bodies are pushing back.

    The Melbourne Boomers, part of the Women’s National Basketball League, have banned all sports betting advertisements and pledged not to accept any funds from gambling.

    “Sport is disproportionately important in the Australian community in terms of cohesion, inclusiveness, and we have to be really careful that we don’t break that,” Boomers chief executive Tony Hallam said.

    “Our audience is community and families, let’s not normalise that the odds are an important part of why sport is played or that betting with friends is a way to enjoy the contest.”

    He fears the value of sport is becoming secondary to gambling.

    “The sport contest needs to be front and centre and protected, at the moment that’s being degraded by the level and invasiveness of sports gambling advertising, and some codes are becoming positioned as gaming products,” he said.

    The Alliance for Gambling Reform believes sporting organisations are negligent in putting the huge gambling profits ahead of the welfare of fans and the community.

    Carol Bennett with Prime Minister Anthony Albanese and anti-gambling campaigner Tim Costello. 

    “It’s time for the sporting codes to accept some responsibility, 78 per cent of the community believe that sport and gambling should not go together and 73 per cent feel gambling advertising should be banned in sport,” said Carol Bennett, chief executive of the Alliance for Gambling Reform.

    “Sport will only promote the association between gambling and sport as normal, this is no longer tenable, we need to see leadership just as we saw with tobacco. The federal government can act.”

    Bennett said children as young as 10 were sports betting.

    “Australians are the world’s biggest losers per capita when it comes to gambling, we shouldn’t be exposing our kids to this harmful adult product, which is creating our next generation of losers,” she said.

    Acknowledging the harm he has caused, Stockwell now wants to raise awareness.

    “We hear about drugs, alcohol, cigarettes, but gambling is just as addictive and just as dangerous,” he said.

    “I am just hoping to help people, particularly youth. Don’t go down the path that I went down, if you dig that hole, that hole can become so deep.”

    Sports content to make you think… or allow you not to. A newsletter delivered each Friday.

    Source: abc.net.au

    Leave a Reply

    Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *