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McNamee: scored 0-2 against UCD yesterday (file photo).
McNamee: scored 0-2 against UCD yesterday (file photo).
Image: INPHO/Morgan Treacy

Gambling addiction cost Offaly footballer €5k in a single night

Niall McNamee lost an estimated €200,000 to gambling before he went into recovery.
Jan 6th 2014, 12:46 PM 20,905 26

OFFALY FOOTBALLER NIALL McNamee lost almost €5,000 on a single night in a Melbourne casino.

The forward has written openly about the gambling addiction which cost him an estimated €200,000 and left him €80,000 in debt.

McNamee, who scored 0-2 in yesterday’s O’Byrne Cup opener against UCD, has been in recovery since his last bet in November 2011.

While on holiday in Australia five years ago, he won $6,000 only to lose the lot — and an additional $1,000 — before he could walk away.

“I was roughly 15 metres from the exit,” he wrote in his latest blogpost.

“I looked to my right and there was another roulette table. Will I won’t I? One more won’t do any harm.

In one hour I was still there. After turning $100 into $6000 earlier that night, I was now after turning $6000 into -$1000. I lost the $6000 I had won, I took $1000 from the bank machine, and I lost that as well. This resulted in me having to ring both my parents throughout the holiday to send me money because I had none left.

McNamee hopes that by telling his story, addicts fighting a similar battle will know they are not alone and seek help.

“If only I could have just walked out of the casino that night everything would have been perfect. Actually, no it wouldn’t. I would have gone back in the next day and lost it all. That’s how us compulsive gamblers work, we can’t stop. And that’s why we don’t talk about how much money we lose. I’m doing it now to prove a point.

If I had of left there with $100,000 I still would have lost it all eventually. It’s the emotions we go through in everyday life that put us through this turmoil. Gambling was my escape. Everything I did back then was an escape. Even the holiday was an escape. Maybe it’s Ireland, maybe I won’t be a compulsive gambler in another country. But I was just as bad, probably worse.

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“I would estimate that I lost around €200,000 through gambling, but if I had access to €1,000,000 I would have lost all that as well. If someone can’t afford to lose €10 in a bookies but places the bet anyway, well then they have the same problem I had.

“The money isn’t the issue, the fact that we can’t walk those extra 15 metres to get out of the casino, that’s the issue.

“I’m not doing this to try and have sensational stories for people. Anyone who suffers from this addiction will tell the exact same story, the time and place will be different but that sense of suffering and helplessness will be the same. So take strength from the fact that you’re not alone.”

Read Niall McNamee’s latest blogpost in full here >

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Niall Kelly

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