Problem Gambler Beats Addiction and Now Helps Others in Their Battle

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Justyn Larcombe manages to turn his life around after losing everything to gambling addiction.

Gambling is certainly a popular pastime with British citizens starting from wagering a couple of quid on the local football team or the next horserace, all the way to enjoying tournaments at online casinos in the United Kingdom.

However, some gamblers can easily develop and addiction, and it’s always important to remember that everything should be done in moderation. On the other hands, it’s the government’s job to ensure that British gambling laws are upheld and the appropriate bodies are addressing the issue of problem gambling.

Gambling addict turns his life around

A story of a gambling addict who managed to turn his life around and help others like him

• Justyn Larcombe gambled away his savings at online sportsbooks in the UK

• He lost his job and family, and moved back in with his mother

• But now, he’s back on his feet and leading a charity helping gambling addicts

The internet is full of stories how respected businessmen ruined their companies by gambling away their future. But amidst all the bad examples, there are a couple of interesting stories of how gamblers were able to turn their disastrous lives around.

One of such examples is the story of a former Army major, Justyn Larcombe, whose life was on the brink of ruins after he has gambled away GBP 750,000 last year. Justyn managed to turn the tables since then, and is now campaigning hard to help gamblers like him overcome addiction.

Somewhere in the middle of last year, Mr. Larcombe’s life was a disaster. His life has left him with two sons, he has lost his high-paying job in the City, and he was already over GBP 70,000 in debt, all this because of his addiction to gambling. In the end he was forced to move back with his mother in Kent.

He recalls that the whole thing began with a small wager placed at one of the online sportsbooks in the United Kingdom in 2009. He quickly began betting at a variety of sites at time going as high as GBP 5,000 a bet on football matches, and one time losing GBP 17,000 on a single tennis match.

Gambling intensifies

Over the space of three years, Larcombe gambled away all his savings, equity of his house, his wife’s money, and started dipping into his company’s credit line. Not without surprise, his employers fired him once they found out the truth.

Once his wife, Emma, uncovered the damage he has done to their finance in 2012, she immediately left him, which coincided with the day he had to be evicted from the house. His mother then brought him back to Tonbridge, a place where Justyn grew up.

Talking to a journalist, Mr. Larcombe says: “This time last year, really, I had nothing, I had no self-respect, I had no money, I had hardly had any income, I had GBP 70,000 worth of debt and a little bin liner of old clothes and pictures to my name, that is all I had.”

Battling the addiction and helping others

Mr. Larcombe went public about his gambling addiction battle and a desire to help others like him. All the media coverage has helped him become a renowned gambling awareness campaigner. He says: “That changed my life dramatically, when the first interview came out.” 

He went on to add: “I was looking for recovery and what it enabled me to do, as I put my head above the parapet, was to reach out and get in touch with other people in a similar situation to me. It is almost as if my story has resonated with lots of people in many different ways, not only problem gamblers, but also the families of people who suffered this horrible addiction.”

By January 2014 Mr. Larcombe has started hosting courses at Tonbridge Baptist Church aimed at people with all kinds of addictions. He has also found freelance work back in London. By now he has paid off his debts and got back with his family living in Shipbourne.

Gambling awareness charity

Mr. Larcombe has published a book of his story and became a chairman of a brand new gambling awareness charity – Rethink Gambling. Justyn is also planning to swim the channel in August in order to raise awareness for Hemi Help charity, helping people with hemiplegia, a condition one of his sons suffers from.

The idea about the Rethink Gambling came to Mr. Larcombe when he got together with three over recovering gambling addicts like him. According to Justyn, the charity has three main purposes:

1. To see compulsory education in schools about gambling addiction

2. Research into the gambling industry funded independently (right now it is primarily funded by the gambling industry)

3. Gambling moved from the Department of Culture, Media and Sport, where it is almost endorsed as some form of entertainment, and moved into the Department of Health

After these steps are taken, Mr. Larcombe thinks “that 1% or 1.5% of people who have a real problem and all the mental health issues and the depression and the potential suicides can be dealt with properly.”

Another aspect Justyn is campaigning for is implementation of a one-stop exclusion method for online gamblers. If they feel they have an addiction they should be able to exclude themselves from all of the online destination in a single effort.

Comments from Mr. Larcombe’s wife

According to Emma Larcombe, he husband has changed a great deal, she says: “I think it is very unusual for someone to be in such a desperate situation to be able to turn it around, pay back his debts, become present in his life when in the middle of his addiction he wasn’t present.”

She also added: “I think he is doing an awful lot for an awful lot of people and I think that is admirable. He is without doubt a different person to the person I married, I think he is a better person, I think he is using his energy to help other people and for good purpose.”

Mr. Larcombe is very keen on letting the public know he and his charity are not anti-gambling. He comments: “My heart is to find protection measures for problem gamblers to reduce the temptation and the danger that people have.”

Comments from the officials

Remote Gambling Association issued a statement confirming Rethink Gambling is an independent charity funded by donations from the gambling industry. The organization is funding prevention, education, and treatment services, aiming to educate the public on gambling addiction dangers.

A statement from the Department for Culture, Media and Sport says that the body is completely committed to ensuring that the gambling industry “puts player protection and social responsibility at the heart of their business”.

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