Punting Pointers: Responsible Gambling with Daniel Ward

Gambling almost ruined Daniel Ward's life. His is a cautionary and important story: we look back on his interview on the Betting 360 Podcast and get his main points on addiction and responsible gambling.

responsible gambling

When did you realise you had a problem?

When I just got past the stage of when you’re setting limits and going past that, and going back to the ATM all the time. Then, for me, it probably got to a stage where I was betting way beyond my limits, and betting on credit, and borrowing money, and all that sort of stuff. Once that starts to happen, it is a bit of a slippery slope. Probably once it got past that stage, that was a bit of a drama for sure.

It was probably a gradual thing, it went from the level that betting on horseracing, probably got introduced to a bookmaker. The worst thing to do there was I had a decent stretch at the start, and I think I thought, “How long has this been going on?” And then you increase your bets and all that type of stuff. Then what invariably happens, the wheel turns and you end up chasing and yeah, that was probably over maybe a 12 month period.

I probably couldn’t watch a sporting event without gambling on it. I had to teach myself to enjoy sport. I wasn’t going to give up watching sport, so I had to teach myself to enjoy watching sport without having anything riding on it.

The lies

They probably started from when I started gambling, to tell the truth. It is the old story about what you, even if you’ve had a big win, what you tell the wife, or if someone asks you, if you’ve had a really bad day, and they say, “Well, how did you go?” You say “I was even.” That probably goes on the whole time. It did accentuate a lot when I was getting to a stage of having to come up with stories of why I couldn’t pay this and all that type of stuff. Once the fog clears, if you like, and you’re in recovery, it’s amazing how much clearer you head is, and you don’t have to come up with these fanciful stories. I’ve spoken about it plenty of times, about you could probably write a couple of Hollywood scripts with stuff that I’ve come up with. Definitely a tough period to have to go through that type of stuff.

Family intervention

That was June 25 2010.  I walked in, I’d fessed up a few days earlier and mostly spoke about, I couldn’t hold my tracks any longer. I walked into a meeting, I just thought my wife and a psychologist. There was my wife and her family members, and my family members, and a couple of friends there to basically say that I need to go and get help, and it’s been going on too long. They’ve actually done everything for me, and booked me in.

All I had to do was say that I’d go and get help, and that’s all I had to do was go to Adelaide, and I entered a rehab program over there, and that was for 30 days. It was in there with all different types of addicts. I used to think I was different than a bloke who stuck a needle in his arm, drug addict, but, I actually wasn’t. We had the same sort of issues but the addiction’s just come out in a different way. Went and did that, and luckily, was taught well over there, and I still haven’t gone back to having a bet, but I am only one bet away from being back down the same path. I’ve still got to continue to work on that, and just realise the fact that I’m an addict for the rest of my life.T

That was the term ‘rock bottom.’ Basically, that was there and then, so I left my family at home. I was over in Adelaide, and basically was there on a Sunday before the program started on Monday. I was in a room by myself. The other two people I shared with weren’t there. They had Sundays off. Basically just looked in the mirror and broke down, and thought, “How did I let it get to this stage?” Yeah, talk about rock bottom, yeah, I wasn’t at my best then and there. Yeah, that was my rock bottom. Luckily, things have looked up since that time, but definitely when I got in there and had time to take stock about the damage that I’d caused, and where I was in my life it was a pretty big moment.

Treatment

Those 30 days, so basically, it was a little bit different than maybe a drug addict or an alcoholic, they might be on medication to help wean them off. For me, it was basically more just about, best way to describe it is that you’re actually finding out reasons, if you like, of why did it take 10 years? It is a holistic sort of thing on you, and it’s not a blame game, but reasons that it may have kept occurring and this is why, because you dropped off on doing this, or this is a really hard situation for you. There was a group of 14, 15, and you were getting therapy daily in a group situation.

There are still things that I got from that 30 day period that I still can remember vividly today, and different people in the room, and their stories and how they got to there, and what they needed to do to get out, and all that type of stuff. It is basically just full on. You get up and you go to the gym. I was going to the gym at 6 o’clock in the morning, and eating healthy and then spending all day in therapy, and then going to meetings and hearing other people talk at night, and basically go to bed and do the same thing, repeat the same thing over and over. I didn’t get to have contact with the family for the first couple of weeks, and was allowed a phone call on Sunday for the last couple of weeks. Yes, it was pretty full on. It was a tough 30 days, it really was, but I am obviously glad, looking back on it now, that I got through that and life’s got a hell of a lot better.

Warning signs

Probably just give yourself a little test, so whether it be setting limits, “Well, I am just going to leave my card at home, and I’m just going to go for a punt on a Saturday, or I’m just going to take $100 with me. If I do that $100, well, I can afford that, that’s fine.” I guess you have got a bit of an issue if it’s then, “Well, I’ll borrow of a mate or I’ll go back and I’ll grab my ATM card, or I’ll bet on credit”. All these things, when you are thinking clearly the night before or the morning of, and you’re saying, “Look, this is all I want to spend,” and once you’re going past that, or whether it’s how regularly you do it. If you’re doing it every day, well, try and go three or four days, or a week, without it and see what that does to your moods, and all that type of stuff.

Listen to the whole conversation here.


If you think you may need help, contact Gambler’s Help for a free and confidential chat:

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