How scratch cards and online gambling impacted my life

Emily talks about her experience with problem gambling and how asking for support really helped

Written by Emily Goss Guildea


I often thought to myself ‘one more scratch card won’t hurt,’ or ‘one more online game won’t hurt.’ Next thing I knew I was topping up my online balance for the fifth time and realising I’m after losing money instead of gaining any.

Gambling in Ireland​

As fun as gambling may seem, it can have a major impact on your life. Ireland has numerous bookies which you can pretty much bet on anything in them, between horses and who is going to win on Love Island, you can place a bet. You go to pay for your groceries at your local shop and scratch cards are right in front of you at the tills. The Euromillions, Lotto Jackpot and all other national lottery games are constantly in your face advertised in shops, giving the temptation to gamble. ​

​Growing up many of my relations gambled, whether it be backing on horses or simply just playing the national lottery. I always told myself I would never ever get into gambling, I never saw the appeal of playing the lotto or buying scratch cards. But it all starts with one. I bought a scratch card with my friend as we had change on us. I never thought anything of it.

Scratch cards and online gambling

I got addicted to scratch cards about two summers ago. I also signed up to a few online gambling sites that I came across when I was on my phone one day and I thought why not try them out? Big mistake! I found myself losing money with my online gambling by constantly topping my account up. I couldn’t stop buying scratch cards and I was known for buying them by my friends, which played a major part in how I started feeling about myself being a gambler. I stopped for a little while but then I started again. That is when it hit me – I had a problem.

Hiding my gambling from others

I felt like I had to hide what I was doing from those around me because I didn’t want anyone thinking I had a gambling problem. I soon became really upset with what I was doing with my life, and the money I was spending started eating me up. I couldn’t stop myself from going back onto my accounts. ​

My parents advised me to stop gambling as they knew I was buying scratch cards the majority of the time. My work colleagues also advised me to stop gambling as they knew it was doing me no good. I took the advice and deleted all of my online gambling accounts, and honestly I felt so much better.

I can’t say I was a gambler, I still am, but not as intense as before. I have cut down on scratch cards immensely and haven’t gone back on my online accounts since I deleted them, which I am very proud of. This approach seems to be working for me, but for other people, it may be better to stop altogether.

I did some research and read a few articles on what it’s like being a gambler and how to stop. So many articles mentioned gambling could be linked to mental health issues, which made sense to me.​ I related to these articles. My mental health was definitely becoming affected by gambling. I would stress over money and the guilt would eat me alive when I realised I went too far with buying scratch cards again.

There are supports to help

If you feel like your gambling is starting to control your life, there is help out there and you can talk to people about any addiction you may have. Personally I was scared of what people would think of me gambling, but people who care about you have your best interest at heart, and they will help you out. There are hundreds of articles online with tips on how to stop gambling and believe me, they do help. If you feel you need help due to having a gambling addiction, talk to someone you trust. It’s important to talk and get the support you need and deserve.

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