Friday, 26 April 2019

Can compulsive sports gamblers watch sports in recovery?

My name is Russ and I’m a compulsive gambler. My last bet was April 2nd 2019. Something I see talked about on forums and in GA are people’s struggles to watch sport once they give up gambling. The short answer for me is yes, it is possible to watch sports in recovery.

I was an avid sports bettor and would literally bet on anything that was available online. Horse racing, NFL, tennis, football, golf, basketball, darts, greyhounds, cricket, baseball, volleyball, snooker, pool, and the list is endless. I also watched a lot of sports and although I thought it was because I was a massive sports fan, generally it was because I had a bet on it. As Sky Bet once said, “It matters more when there’s money on it”. Looking back I never actually enjoyed the sport I was watching when I had a bet on. Yes, I got a buzz, that adrenaline was pumping when the bet was landing or when I suffered a bad beat, but I wasn’t actually watching the race or game. Horse racing I was watching my horse, NFL I was watching the player I’d backed to score a touchdown, tennis I was just focused on my player etc. 

Now I have loved sports from a young age, don’t get me wrong but somewhere along the way I lost the reason as to why I was watching. I was watching crap that without a bet would not have interested me. No one without a bet is getting comfy to watch the 2:30 at Plumpton on a Monday afternoon. They aren’t sitting down to enjoy some ITF tennis between two players ranked outside the top 500. Icelandic basketball? Unlikely. Chinese volleyball? Give me a break. How about the Philippine Basketball League? That’s just some of the stuff I watched on Bet365 that had video, if it didn’t have video then I followed a lot of sport on their little in play animations. That’s not the actions of someone who loves sports, that’s the actions of a compulsive gambler.

The first Saturday of my recovery was April 6th 2019 which was the day of The Grand National, one of the biggest horse races in the world. Now it’s never really appealed to me from a gambling point of view but I love watching it. I love watching all the big horse racing meetings and races. For those first few days in recovery I had avoided sports but thatSaturday evening I had to make a decision if I was going to watch The Grand National. Tiger Roll was trying to become the first horse since Red Rum in 1974 to win the Grand National back to back and I was torn. I decided against watching it and checked the result later that evening. Tiger Roll had won, a historic victory, and I was gutted I missed it. From that moment I decided I was not going to let gambling ruin sports the way I let it start to ruin my life. I’ve accepted I cannot gamble but I’ve also accepted that gambling is hereand it’s not going anywhere. It’s up to me to be able to co-exist with gambling.

So the following Saturday I sat down and watched Leeds get a vital win in the race for promotion to the Premier League (well it was vital about two weeks ago, not so much now) and on Sunday sat down and watched Tiger Woods make one of the greatest comebacks in sports history to win The Masters, and I loved every minute of it. I loved it for all the right reasons, for the reasons that people love sport. Gone are the days where I’m watching sport that does not matter to me, there are far more important things I can do like spend time with my family or friends, but if there is an event on that I want to watch I’m not afraid anymore. I didn’t even think about betting while watching them, it was all about the purity of the sport, which is the reason I fell in love with sports in the first place.


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