What it is like to be addicted to gambling - man from Goodmayes speaks out
While working as a car park security guard, Uta Malinga would spend every minute checking the odds on horses and football games.
When lunchtime finally arrived he would bolt to the local betting shop to put money on races and matches.
When he got home from work, he would get drunk and then settle down in front of his computer on an online casino, sometimes losing £2,000 in a session.
Uta bought his first lottery ticket at 23, and started betting on football with his colleagues, who clubbed together to put money on matches each Friday.
The 33-year-old, of Goodmayes, has had a problem with alcohol since he was 15, and says the two addictions are intertwined.
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He said: “I lost everything. I kept losing jobs because of my drinking and I started gambling as I didn’t have enough money to fund the lifestyle I had become used to. I started gambling more and more.”
His addictions have meant Uta lost numerous jobs, his home, and now rarely has any contact with his family.
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Over the years he has played the lottery, bet on horse and dog races, football games and used online casinos.
“I would get home from work,” he said. “I’d stock up on the booze and sit in front of the computer for hours. It became routine. It was just something I did when I got home from work.”
He says that there is no single reason why he gambles, but drink, money and not knowing when to stop all play a part.
“I went to the betting shop one lunchtime and put £5 on the dogs. It came through and this win gave me £250,” he said.
“The woman sat there and watched me spend it all. She just looked at me like ‘why didn’t you quit when you were ahead?’ But when is it enough?”
He is receiving help from Ilford’s Salvation Army in Clements Road for his gambling and alcohol addictions as well as from the Welcome Centre, Green Lane, Ilford.