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My brother is addicted to gambling and has started stealing!

(34 Posts)
Gamblerssis Wed 06-Nov-13 11:58:43

Sorry it's long. We found out yesterday my brother is a gambling addict. In 2009 I saw his statement and there were lots of payments to betting businesses like £10 here and there each time. Lots of them. He said he would stop, we believed him and didn't think much of it especially as he was only 17 and living off pocket money as he was still studying.

Yesterday, the mortgage company called my dad as his direct debit failed. He then checked his account. My brother used his card to pay over £7,000 to the likes of ladbrokes, coral, Jennings etc. In one day alone, he spent £4,400 at these shops. This is all over 45 days or so. Dad had given him his pin sometime in September to help him make a cash withdrawal.

When he was in university, the whole family paid his fees and accommodation as we didn't want him to take student loans and start off with so much debt. He's a much younger brother with 15 years between him and the next older sibling. Yesterday, he said he still took the student loans anyway and used the money to bet.

In university, he was always needing to pay for one thing or the other. Utility bills not included in accommodation costs etc. Now it all makes sense.

Naturally, everyone is upset and we all wonder how we did not know. No one in our family has ever known any gamblers and we don't gamble save for playing the lottery occassionally except him of course. Hence we did not see the signs. He says he is sorry, I don't believe him. I asked to see his own bank statements he refused. However he has agreed to go to GamblersAnonymous this week.

I've read so much online since yesterday and it seems like it can be a lifelong addiction. I think the only way to help him might be to report to the police. My dad doesn't want to. Is it possible to report to give him a "reality shock" and then withdraw the case so he doesn't get a criminal record?

If anyone has any ideas that could help, please let me know.

hellsbellsmelons Wed 06-Nov-13 12:07:55

I'm sorry I have no experience on this at all.
It must be very hard on your all.

You will need to report it to the police if your dad wants to make a claim on the £7K that has been stolen from him.

I really hope he attends GA and gets this in check.
But yes... like alcoholics, it's a lifelong thing he we battle with always.

onetiredmummy Wed 06-Nov-13 12:18:02

I'm so sorry for you OP, this is not your fault or your families & there are no signs you would have noticed to make it all OK in the early days. The fault is not yours.

Going from experience with an alcoholic, the addict is very devious & becomes very adept at hiding stuff. Usually they can only be helped if they know themselves that they need help, anything else is a 'yes I'll go to GamblersAnonymous' to get you all off his back so he doesn't have to face up to the guilt & shame & the behaviour carries on.

I feel so much for your dad & I can see why he doesn't want to report it. However if the addict keeps getting bailed out by totally well meaning parents or family then they are not going to seek help. Your reporting it to the police is also a viable way of letting your brother know that its not acceptable. He needs to know that you will support him emotionally but you will not give him the means to carry on gambling.

It might be worth your phoning a gambling support charity to get some advice on how to carry on & how to help your brother best. I'n sorry I don't know any off the top of my head but Google them & phone one that helps relatives. It may well be possible to give him a reality shock but they may be able to give you more ideas than involving the police.

I hope that your brother overcomes his addiction, you sound like a wonderful family that he is lucky to be a part of.

Gamblerssis Wed 06-Nov-13 12:19:14


He's upset about the money but he's put his "protective parent" hat on. He doesn't want him to have a criminal record because it will impact his future job prospects and all that. Will it be a criminal offence or a civil matter especially as my dad gave him the pin to start with though he used it the other times without asking. Do civil matters result in criminal records?

The brother I know will not appreciate the gravity of what he has done until he knows he is in serious trouble and someone outside the family .i.e the police are on his case.

Gamblerssis Wed 06-Nov-13 12:22:03

Thanks onetiredmummy, crossed post with you.

I'll get on the phone to a support line now.

I feel like a tired mum. I have my own little ones to worry about now this.

firesidechat Wed 06-Nov-13 12:36:02

You will need to report it to the police if your dad wants to make a claim on the £7K that has been stolen from him.

If the pin number for the card was given to the son, then the money won't be refunded to the card holder. It's one of the reasons that we are all told not to disclose our pin to anyone.

I'm so sorry OP. I can't help much because I have no personal experience of this, but it sounds terrible for you all. A huge breach of trust.

Clutterbugsmum Wed 06-Nov-13 12:44:14

Unfortunatley your dad gave him his pin number so he can probably say good bye to the money,

What you dad does have to do is change all his pin numbers and make sure you brother does not get hold of them again.

I would say the readon your brother doesn't want to show you his bank statement is because he still no admitting the full scale of his addiction. He probably has more then one credit card that he has spent on over and above the limits. If he spent 7K in 45 days thats £155 pounds a day that you know of.

It may be idea to a credit check on him to find out his full credit history because of now you know he owes £7k to your dad, he owes £££££ in student debt plus whatever overdraft/credit card debts.

It's now affecting you dad credit score - has he been able to make up the miss mortage payment.

sebsmummy1 Wed 06-Nov-13 13:00:01

On the pin matter I know you are not meant to give your PIN to anyone, including partners, husband, children etc. As soon as you do so you fail to be covered by the bank for any money that is lost, not sure about the police though and how this would stand legally.

The problem with protecting him is that your dad is then enabling him to continue. He has to actually feel the impact of what he has caused for it to hit home. They say an addict has to hit rock bottom before they can admit to having a problem.

It sounds as though rock bottom would possibly be being charged with theft and possible bankruptcy if no one will bail him out. But that is real tough love and I'm not sure any family would really be prepared to throw their kin to the lions until they were a long way down this path of addiction.

cricketnut77 Wed 06-Nov-13 13:46:29

Hi there, I'm a chap who knows a lot about the gambling industry. First of all you need to all sit down and discuss this sensibly without anyone rushing to the police. Your brother must know he has a big problem if he is spending this amount in a day.

Contact Gamcare and they will discuss with your family and your brother all the options available. All bookmakers now operate a system where you can tell them you have a problem and they should'nt take any bets from you. Certainly this should work with online betting but I believe you can take in photos to you local bookmakers so they cant take bets in the shop either.

Good luck you shall all need it. Your bro is in a dark place right now and he needs his family more than ever

AttilaTheMeerkat Wed 06-Nov-13 13:57:01

Saying that he'll actually go to GA and actually attending there are two very different things. They are adept at telling people what they want to hear. He may well decide not to attend; you cannot influence that choice.

You can only protect your own selves financially and emotionally now and it is likely you do not know the full extent of the moneies owed. He certainly does not.

I would seek help for your own selves as you can certainly help you; I would call Gamcare today and talk to them about your brother's gambling addiction. That is really all you can yourself do; you cannot help anyone who does not want to be helped and your family are too close to the situation to be of any real use here anyway. I do not mean that unkindly, that is just fact.

Your Dad has also played a role here; he has continued to enable his son with the net result being that enabling really helps no-one. Your Dad's actions only gave his own self a false sense of control.

AttilaTheMeerkat Wed 06-Nov-13 13:58:13

Your brother may well lose everything and everyone around him and still gamble afterwards.

Unless he himself realises and is totally serious about wanting to face up to why he actually gambles to excess in the first place there is nothing you can do to help him. You can only help your own selves here.

Gamblerssis Wed 06-Nov-13 17:25:06

Thanks everyone.

Clutterbugsmum- Yes this month's mortgage has been paid. Unfortunately his account is now overdrawn so we still need to sort that out but we'll get there. My brother is not aware the mortgage is paid or we are sorting it out though.

sebsmummy1- I'm the toughest in my family but I'm not sure I want him to go to prison for a long time (as long as he doesn't do it again) though if he could be kept in for a week just to scare him without that criminal record, it would be great.

AttilaTheMeerkat- I'm not sure how my dad has enabled him. Would you really not trust your own child with your pin? He had no reason not to until yesterday. And he's changed his pin now and obviously no one will be leaving their card around the house. We'll be taking it in turns to drive him to the meetings, we've chosen one that's convenient for at least one of us to take him.

We've had a long chat today and he has about £11k of student loans. He has given me access to his statements and in the last year he spent £3.5k from his bank account on bets. The year before was £2k. All funded with his student loans.

He also had some loans from wonga, smart pig etc but all repaid at ridiculously high interest rates! Borrowed £50 for 3 weeks and paid £63 back. He has no overdraft, credit card or other loans.

He said he spoke with Gamcare in the past and he was able to stay clean for a while- reflected in his bank statements as between Aug 2010 and June 2012, 2+ years.

According to him, all his friends would bet on football matches in Uni just to make it more exciting and he couldn't resist so started again. He graduated Uni this summer and according to him, whilst looking for a job he thought he might be able to make some money by placing bets. He just got a good job to start next week, hopefully it will really mark a turning point.

He's closed his online account with William Hill. I was with him as he did it and thankfully he told them he believes he has an addiction and he doesn't want to be able to open it again. Cricketnut77, we will go to the local shops tomorrow and leave photos. He's agreed to that. Thanks.

BibbleBabbleBobble Wed 06-Nov-13 17:42:38

There is a lot of talk about 'we' in your posts. Your family acting as a unit. It's like you take shared responsibility when there is a problem. That is a good thing with most problems, but I am not sure about this one.

You're also talking about using the police/a prison cell as an extension of your families 'punishment system' IYSWIM. It doesn't work like that.

BibbleBabbleBobble Wed 06-Nov-13 17:46:43

What I mean is that it sounds like you're wondering if you can dictate terms to the police re punishment. If you could do that, then it probably wouldn't be the shock he needs to change.

AttilaTheMeerkat Wed 06-Nov-13 17:49:20

"AttilaTheMeerkat- I'm not sure how my dad has enabled him. Would you really not trust your own child with your pin? He had no reason not to until yesterday. And he's changed his pin now and obviously no one will be leaving their card around the house. We'll be taking it in turns to drive him to the meetings, we've chosen one that's convenient for at least one of us to take him".

Your Dad has enabled his son by doing things for him that he (son) could have done himself. You're both still enabling him by taking him to the meetings, I presume you are doing this because he would not go otherwise and/or you would not trust him to attend. Any attempts at coercion will not work, unless he wants to properly address the reasons behind his own gambling nothing you do or say will have any effect long term.

No I would never trust my child with my pin, your Dad was unwise to give him the pin number of his card. Its been used and abused. The bank card remains the property of the bank as well. They will not be happy that your Dad gave his son the pin number, that money is now gone.

There were reasons not to trust this young man years ago and he certainly has a long standing addiction to gambling which started when he was 17 if not before. His behaviour at uni was one indicator and you yourself saw a bank statement albeit in 2009 detailing gambling payments.

Do you think you actually now know the full extent of his gambling?.

Do you think that he has actually spoken to Gamcare?. In any event I would be making contact with them myself as they also help family members of gamblers.

Gamblerssis Wed 06-Nov-13 18:17:01

BibbleBabbleBobble I know it doesn't work like that but I was just trying to make a point that he needs something to scare him back to his senses if that makes sense. We are not taking sharing responsibility for his problem but we all support each other.

AttilaTheMeerkat Yes, I don't trust him now but someone will take him because we need to make sure he attends (though he said he would go of his own will), he doesn't have a car and the 15 minute journey will take an hour by bus and it might disincentivize him. I guess it is a case of each to their own with regards the pin. The bank won't be unhappy as he's not putting in a claim. Did you read where I said I just happened to stumble on a bank statement? No one in the family has experienced gambling addiction and he never stole in the past, at least none that we are aware of. My mum leaves her bag with cash in it, I have when I visited as well and we have never had money missing. How was it to be expected? It is only now that we can piece his behavior together as part of his addiction.

BibbleBabbleBobble Wed 06-Nov-13 18:25:52

If he would be dis incentivised by an hours bus journey then it doesn't sound like he is really committed to going.

Is he going to pay your dad back?

TossedSaladsAndScrambledEggs Wed 06-Nov-13 18:33:23

I'm so sorry you are going through this. I have no experience of gambling, but my brother abuses alcohol and drugs. My parents have bailed him out of financial debt umpteen times, but unfortunately he always just goes and does it again. They have recently started seeking support and have been told that their behaviour enables him, so they have tried to be firm, but it is very difficult. He will scrounge the odd fiver here and there, saying it is for electricity or food, but chances are he will spend it on booze or worse. Truth is, even if it was for food, really he needs to feel the discomfort of going hungry if he has chosen to spend the rest of his money on drugs.

You can lead a horse to water but you can't make it drink. It is certainly true that addicts need to hit rock bottom to really turn things around, but it is unbelievably painful to watch it happen to someone you love. I really hope things work out for your family.

Tulip26 Wed 06-Nov-13 18:37:09

Gamcare helpline is 08088020133. It's a free number. Call them yourself, they can advise you better than we can. The photo thing is called self-exclusion. They should drop everything and S/E you right there and then if you ask. Don't let them fob you off with "come back in 24 hours" that rule no longer applies. You'll need a photo for each one and it's a legal contract lasting twelve months.

Gamblerssis Wed 06-Nov-13 18:48:30

True Bibble, only he can help himself now. However, whatever support we can render now in terms of him getting the help he needs, we will provide. I am probably making excuses but he will start work next week and the meetings are late at night 8-9.30pm.

Thanks Tossed. I hope your brother gets better too. It really is heart breaking.

I do hope I can come back here in 1 yr, 5 yrs or however many years and say my brother overcame his addiction but I am really scared considering what I have read about people with addictions in the last 24 hours or so.

AttilaTheMeerkat Wed 06-Nov-13 18:48:52

Would he really be disincentivised by an hour's bus journey?. Have you asked him?.

This young man is very fortunate here in that his dad is seemingly going to let this monetary loss go. Your Dad also needs to think long and hard about actually not reporting it to the police as well. How does not reporting it help his son?.

Gambling is a very real and lifelong addiction. You are certainly right in that respect and he should never gamble again, not even a scratchcard or a lottery ticket.

My concern is that there no real incentive for him to attend these meetings even now, he would not likely go at all unless someone was there to take him. This is what I mean by enabling; he is still being bailed out by you all even now. Where are the consequences for his actions?. Enabling helps no-one and only gives you a false sense of control.

Gamblerssis Wed 06-Nov-13 18:54:04

Thanks for the heads up Tulip26. He's taken some passport photos today so he (and I) can go to the shops tomorrow to tell them.

I stress, he has willingly agreed to do these things. I am just helping to follow through so he doesn't chicken out. And I have never been in a bookmakers but now curious.

AttilaTheMeerkat Wed 06-Nov-13 18:56:34

Ultimately you can only protect your own self. It is hard because he is your brother but he has blown thousands on pounds on gambling to date and that is what you actually know about. There are perhaps other gambling debts you do not know of.

He's probably also told you as well that he would stop when he gets the big win; it never happens. BTW have you ever seen a poor bookie?. Neither have I.

Your brother has to be the one to work out exactly what and why (there are always reasons why) he gambled in the first place. He as well as you all have a long and difficult road ahead of you. He may well relapse and fall back into gambling again. Treatment includes CBT (cognitive behavioural therapy); that can have good results with gamblers.

Gamblerssis Wed 06-Nov-13 19:08:26

Thank you. Hmmm, I see what you mean now Attila. I don't know tbh. The only consequence now is that we all know he can't be trusted. He will be paying dad back and he will repay the fees and accommodation costs we all paid for him. So he won't have much left over from his paycheck for the next 2 years or so. He will also be showing me his bank statements each month.

He said he was stopping immediately (yesterday), not that I believe that because he did not seek help voluntarily it was only because he was caught. My parents keep going on about a criminal record and because it's never happened before, that's the only help he gets from not been reported.

cricketnut77 Wed 06-Nov-13 22:20:00

Gambling addiction is not the same as other addictions such as drugs/alcohol as some people on here have tried to make out. It is often very complex and usually the addict gets in trouble and thinks the only way out is to have one more bet and finally win and all will be well.

Make sure the individual shops forward the passport photos onto other shops near them Ie Ladbrokes send the photo to all the Ladbrokes shops in a 20mile radius. And dont miss out any other shops either, Corals, William Hill, Paddy Power , Betfred all have tons of shops and should forward the photos onto to their other branches. Give them a few days and go in to a neighbouring shop and make sure they have done it. If they haven't or are unwilling to do this threaten to tell the gambling commision that should make em pull their fingers out. Also dont forget any independents that are nearby they are subject to the same rules too.

If he was just football betting then that should suffice, if it was horses as well then do the same with any local racecourses.

Cant believe some posters are criticizing the OPs family.

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