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By the time Anthony approached Phillip Allen and his team he had come to terms with his gambling addiction and realised the full extent of his financial problems. Using credit cards and loans to fund his gambling, he had build up debts of £50,000 - far more than he could ever hope to repay in full.
"Even now it's a daily battle," he says, "but I never want to go back there and, as the cliché goes, the first step is admitting you have a problem."
Like many people, Anthony began by betting small amounts, so the losses never made a huge impact. He was lured in to the gambling world gradually and it took him a long time to realise he had a problem.
"My story begins with my partner moving into my house some years ago and a short while later having the internet installed. I never bothered with it at first but one day I saw an advert for online poker in a magazine and thought it looked like fun. It took a couple of minutes to register and log on and a further 20 minutes to become hooked, when I won just over £50. This may not sound like a lot but it was easy money and the buzz I got was incredible."
Over the months that followed, Anthony began to spend more time on various gambling websites, betting ever increasing amounts. His partner was oblivious to his addiction and the amount of credit he was taking out.
"Our computer was set up in the living room which meant I could play while my partner watched TV. Inevitably I lost more than I won, but was always sure that the next gamble would be the winning one and when I was lucky I'd push it that bit further and bet even more. It became such a lifestyle that nothing else seemed to matter and eventually my relationship broke down."
With the added pressure of managing household bills on his own, Anthony took out more credit cards, only to blow most of them on gambling sites. He hit his lowest point when he lost £1,000 in one night. When he tried to play on, convinced he'd win it back, he discovered he was at his monthly withdrawal limit from the website.
"If I had learned from that expensive lesson and walked away, life would be different, but I was addicted so instead I simply found a new website and carried on spending."
Anthony's friends and family eventually helped him realise the extent of his problems after he borrowed money from them, supposedly to pay the mortgage, but spent it on gambling instead.
"My brother in particular was very concerned. He knew something was seriously wrong and eventually I came clean. It was a relief to get it off my chest but I felt so ashamed and I could see how disappointed he was in me, which hurt most of all. I realise looking back that I had become completely consumed by gambling to the point where everything important in my life suffered. It was obvious it was time to stop and get help."
Anthony began attending counselling and with the help of his family he sorted through his finances and realised for the first time that he owed almost £50,000 to credit card and loan companies.
"I won't pretend it was easy," says Anthony. "At times I felt like giving up. I couldn't see a way out and even then thought that maybe I could win enough to pay my debts off. It took a lot of counselling to start getting out of that way of thinking. But, with my family's support, I've started to rebuild my life."
When Anthony met Phillip Allen and his team of IVA experts (link to about us) for advice about his debts, he assured them he was receiving help to combat his gambling addiction. They worked out that Anthony could afford to pay his creditors £420 a month in order to become debt-free within five years. Best of all, his creditors agreed to make an allowance for his mortgage arrears keeping his home safe (link to save your home with an IVA).
"I managed to save my house with their help and I am so thankful that they gave me the chance to try and sort my life out; I thought I'd used up all my chances."