Saturday, July 20, 2024

‘As long as you’re losing money they don’t care’: Geelong man’s warning after online gambling addiction saw him land in jail

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Mark Stockwell was recently released from prison after skimming half a million dollars from his employer to fund his sports betting habit. 

The Geelong local had never touched a pokie, wasn’t interested in the bookmakers, but the lure and ease of mobile sports betting on AFL and horse racing was his undoing.

“Sports betting destroyed my life, half a million dollars was wasted and the house we built was sold while I was in jail,” Stockwell told ABC Sport.

“I spent 40 years building up a good name, that’s ruined. The betting agencies are unscrupulous, as long as you’re losing money they don’t care.”

His life and addiction rapidly spiralled out of control.

“I was quickly punting every day of the week on my phone, was able to take out 10 credit cards while earning Centrelink income, then the bills started to come in and I didn’t have the money,” he said.

In the grips of addiction, he was convinced he was one bet from making it all go away.

After diverting cancer charity donations into his own bank account to pay off his debts, Stockwell pleaded guilty to 13 counts of theft in 2020.

“Having a few wins made me believe I could do it all the time, but you’re going to lose nine times out of 10 — they’re made for you to lose,” he said.

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