Irish Gambling Addicts Leave the Country to Escape the Cheltenham Festival Appeal

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A group of recovering gambling addicts from Ireland takes a trip to Portugal to escape the Cheltenham Festival.

The Cheltenham Festival, one of the biggest events on the United Kingdom horse-racing calendar, was a huge success for both spectators and punters betting under Irish gambling laws. Despite huge crowds gathering to witness and cheer on the races live this year, they were certain groups of people who wanted to get as far away from the festival as possible.

A group of gambling addicts flew to Portugal on a golfing trip in order to avoid the strong attractiveness of the Cheltenham Festival betting. The five-day racing meet in the Cotswolds is one of the premier events for many punters wagering at both land-based and online sportsbooks in Ireland. However, for gambling addicts it’s a real test of will-power, to stay away.

Taking into consideration the increase in gambling advertising especially on social media and at online outlets, it’s now virtually impossible for recovering gambling addicts to forget about betting. The only way to avoid constant reminders is to switch off computers, phones, television sets, and not read any papers during the days the Festival is taking place.

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Gambling addicts leave Ireland during Cheltenham Festival

• A group of recovering gambling addicts left the country trying to avoid temptation

• Tens of thousands of punters are placing bets on the Festival under Irish gambling laws

• Gambling adverts and reminders are virtually everywhere during the Festival

Some gambling addicts even go as far as to leave the country in order to avoid being subjected to all the gambling ads and propositions. Irish gambling news reported on a group of 20 recovering addicts who left for Portugal on a golfing trip in an effort to escape the temptation to bet on Cheltenham Festival.

The group in question are all members of the Dublin Gambling Anonymous chapter. The Dublin GA office commented that the gambling addiction can already be accounted for in tens of thousands of cases. And that is only those who attend counseling session on a weekly basis. Dublin alone has 18 venues.

The counselors employed in Gambling Anonymous chapters are expecting a wealth of calls and visits this week. The post-Cheltenham “hangover” is the usual event, when tapped-out punters come to seek help right after the festival.

Professional comments and gamblers’ accounts

CEO and clinical director for the Rutland Centre, an addiction clinic, Dr. Fiona Weldon, opined that the weeks before and after the Cheltenham Festival have always been busy for them. Their residential treatment and out-patient programs experience the biggest strain during these days.

She said: “After big events like this there are always those who have hit rock bottom.” According to the doctor, the high-profile horse-racing events are especially dangerous for gambling addicts, and those individuals who are recovering and can suffer a re-lapse. She continued: “There’s no escape, anywhere. It’s very much in your face.”

A 68-year-old recovering addict from Co Kildare, said he still has trouble getting through the day, even though he hasn’t placed a bet in 21 years. He was once employed as racing stud manager. The recovering gambling addict recalls that he first wagered at Cheltenham at the age of 17, and continued to do so every day for 25 years until realizing that the addiction has taken over and poses a serious threat to his marriage.

Co Kildare resident recalls that he wasn’t losing lots of money like other addicts do, but that was only because he wasn’t earning large sums of money at his job. And working in the horse-racing industry certainly acted as an additional catalyst to his addiction.

He commented: “The monkey was always on my back – and still is. For us, every day was like Cheltenham and you’re just as vulnerable after 21 years as a guy who has only been off the bet for a week.” He added he can’t watch any racing on TV, and struggles through the Cheltenham days every year, trying to occupy himself with other things.

He also went on to add: “I’m just grateful I’m where I am today. If I was 30 years younger today, with the internet and all the various kinds of gambling out there, I’d be looking at a very sad life on my own or on my way out.”

Getting away from the country may be a solution for gambling addicts, but it’s certainly not for everyone. Not all addicts can afford to take a trip elsewhere for the duration of the Festival, and then again there are thousands of way to bet online, on a mobile device, or simply to phone a friend and ask him to place a couple of bets in your name.

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