Sally realized that her husband needed help with his addiction to gambling. But she didn’t realize it until they were forced to sell the house, and move in with her mother.
It was the stuff of dreams when Sally and Denver (not their real names) built their own home – valued at over $1 million – but with Denver flushing money away in the casino every night, they had no choice but to sell to meet their debts.
It’s an all-too-familiar story, played out all over the world, but for this young couple and their two young daughters it brought their lives crashing down around them.
Denver started, like many before him, with a little flutter on the horses. He did well, moving swiftly into what compulsive gamblers call the “winning phase”. But it soon reached a point when his adrenalin would not pump unless he was putting large amounts on a horse to win.
The “losing phase” now kicked in and, to recoup his losses, Denver would move on to the casino at 5pm and gamble until 3am, hoping for a quick-fix.
Those became all the more rare and Denver often found himself buying “a gold chain on his credit card and pawning it for gambling money”.
This would give him the “ammunition to indulge in big-shottism”, where he could stroll into the casino and be a big shot on the tables. But then came the days when Denver would claim the deposit on soft drink bottles just to put bread on the table. His addiction was way out of control and the family was sinking fast.
He was contemplating stealing money and having suicidal thoughts. There were daily arguments with Sally and their oldest daughter, 16, who was threatening to run away from home.
With the sale of the house, Sally begged her husband to seek help. Big Shot Denver, still swollen with pride and arrogance, flatly refused.
It took a work colleague to confront him and insist that he take Denver to Gamblers Anonymous for him to relent.
Two years of rehabilitation has changed it all around. Denver faced up to his demon and is rebuilding his – and his family’s – life. It’s a constant struggle but, with the support of his wife and fellow GA members, it is one which he – for the moment at least – is winning.
Don’t under estimate the power of gambling vices like poker or online slot machines — they can take control of every aspect of your life.