The UK gambling industry is worth billions, with 5% of customers responsible for 70% of that revenue. That includes me – after my addiction spiralled in the pandemic
It’s the middle of a third set tiebreak on Wimbledon’s Centre Court, and 15,000 tennis fans are clapping to their own beat, whipping up anticipation for a crucial line call. Hawk-Eye, the automated line system the tournament uses, the tennis equivalent of a Roman emperor’s thumb – able to overrule the traditional linespeople with their ostentatious crouching – flashes on to the big screen. The clapping reaches a climax: Jannik Sinner, a wiry, 21-year-old Italian with a somewhat incongruous blaze of red, curly hair has hit a backhand long by a few centimetres of the All England Club grass. A few minutes later, he loses the tiebreak – and I lose £800.
In the preceding two years, I have lost much, much more betting on tennis. I have lost £40,000. I didn’t see it coming, the gambling addiction. Even now, I wince a bit at the word “addiction”, though that is plainly what it is.