Man calls for ban on sports online gambling after racking up £10k of debt and attempting suicide

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“I know it for what it is now. You’ll never really win.”

A gambling addict who racked up £10k of debt has called for online betting to be banned - after ​fans were bombarded with ​11,000 ads in Premier League games over one weekend. Freddie Nicholson started putting money on football matches and horse racing as soon as he hit 18.

But the 29-year-old found himself hooked and racked up thousands in debt after using online gambling sites - he says it got so bad he eventually became suicidal. After seeking help for his addiction and getting support from his doctor, Freddie is now debt-free and hasn’t gambled heavily in years.

He feels online gambling should be completely banned - because it’s too convenient to access, making it easy to spiral out of control. He reckons people should only be able to place a bet in a physical shop or casino.

It comes after research emerged showing almost 11,000 gambling messages were shown on live televised coverage, sports news programming, sports news radio, and social media over the weekend of August 11-14 - the start of the new Premier League season. Freddie reckons if online gambling didn’t exist, he would never have started in the first place.

Freddie, a custody officer, from Kempston, Bedfordshire, said: “When I was at my lowest, I thought I couldn’t watch sport unless I gambled. My friends still do it - if I say ‘why don’t you just not bet?’, they say ‘what would be the fun in that?’.

“The messaging is there - every advert is for gambling or alcohol - it’s a potent cocktail that nearly killed me. When every advert you see is for gambling, it’s no wonder people say ‘go on then’ - it’s so wrong. If I could do one thing in the world, it would be to ban online gambling altogether.”

Freddie began gambling on football matches and horse races when he turned 18 and lost all his birthday money, around £200. He continued placing bets and became addicted to gambling, which continued into his mid-twenties.

This culminated in him attempting to take his own life because of his debts, which had become “mental torture” to him. The day after Freddie’s suicide attempt his mum took him to the doctors - which he says further saved his life.

Freddie Nicholson, 29, started putting money on football matches and horse racing as soon as he hit 18.Freddie Nicholson, 29, started putting money on football matches and horse racing as soon as he hit 18.
Freddie Nicholson, 29, started putting money on football matches and horse racing as soon as he hit 18. | SWNS

He is now debt-free and runs a podcast about mental health poetry - and says he “can’t stand gambling any more”. Freddie said: “I know it for what it is now. You’ll never really win.”

Research by the University of Bristol last month monitored live televised coverage, sports news programming, sports news radio, and social media over the weekend of August 11-14. Over those three days, the opening weekend of the new Premier League season, 10,999 gambling messages were identified during the weekend across various media channels.

Premier League clubs already collectively agreed to withdraw gambling sponsorship from the front of their match day shirts by the end of the 2025-26 season. But Freddie says this is far from enough - because all the messaging still makes it feel like “you can’t enjoy sports without gambling.”

While he has kicked his gambling addiction, Freddie is still suffering the consequences years on. He says his credit rating has been left in tatters from loans he took out during his gambling addiction.

He feels online gambling is the cause of gambling addictions - because it’s so convenient to do from your home, especially after alcohol. Another “bugbear” of his is the way online casinos “hook you in” - offering free bets or spins to entice you to start.

He believes it’s then hard to stop due to all the gambling adverts. He said: “I wish online gambling was banned, if I could do one thing, it would be that.

“If there wasn’t online gambling, I probably wouldn’t have started. They always tell you to gamble responsibly, but everyone knows you won’t.”

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