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Paul Merson opens up on his gambling relapse which got him in trouble with family

Paul Merson opens up on his gambling relapse which saw him blow his own family’s £160k house deposit on table tennis bets in 2020.

The ex-footballer turned pundit has revealed that he relapsed into gambling addiction and lost the six figure sum of money which had been set aside for a house deposit while betting on table tennis during the height of the Covid pandemic.

Merson is known to speak publicly about his gambling addiction, which has in total cost him £7million during a 30-year battle.

The 54-year-old former Arsenal midfielder placed his first bet aged 16 and that led to more addictions including alcohol and cocaine, as well as two failed marriages.

Last year, Merson presented a BBC documentary about gambling in which he looked into his own life and questioned whether enough was being done to prevent more people like him from suffering at the hands of betting companies.

At the time, he told The Mirror he was “frightened to death” of relapsing – and that is came about again the year before.

In the summer of 2020, during lockdown, Merson was furloughed from his job as a pundit on Premier League matches for Sky Sports’ Soccer Saturday, who often give their own predictions, and push betting to the max.

After initially enjoying the extra time he had off with his third wife, Kate, and his young children, he fell back into bad habits due to his anxiety over the constant updates on television.

“My anxiety kicked in and I thought, ‘They’re not going to have Soccer Saturday any more’. I was thinking, ‘I’m not going to be able to earn anything’. My older kids’ mums have houses and I want to give my younger kids a future,” he told The Sun.

“Kate and I had £160,000 saved up and I blew it in a few bets. It was all online, but it wasn’t a bookmaker, it was a private bookie.”

He added: “My last bet was eight grand on a table tennis player. I didn’t have a particular knowledge of table tennis but everything was locked down at that point, so there wasn’t much to bet on.

“When I got to that point it was just a total chase-up to try and get my money back, which is a prime example of a compulsive gambler. That was my last eight grand but when I’m in the grip of it, I lose all sense of rationale.”

Merson says he is now blocked from all betting companies and that his wages instead go straight to his wife Kate so that he can’t blow them on gambling.

He often attends Gamblers Anonymous sessions, talks to an expert and uses addiction support app Recoverlution in order to help control his addiction.

He continues to be passionate about reforming the gambling industry, insisting that the bookies must closely monitor problem gamblers and block access to those clearly out of control.

“I think they’ve got to take it in their hands,” he told The Mirror last year. “Not keep on leaving it with the compulsive gambler. Don’t throw it onto them. They need to take control. They can’t just use that ‘when the fun stops, stop’ because an addict isn’t going to do that.

“You know when someone’s not having fun – 90 bets a day, 60 bets a day,15 deposits a day. The limits need to be set for these people, because they won’t set a limit themselves. The only time they’re ever going to stop is when everything is gone. They’re not going to stop until their bank account is at zero.”

Fans gave their reaction as Paul Merson opens up on his latest gambling relapse…

@breako87: You can’t relate to his thought processes unless you have been an addict yourself, ‘ just don’t gamble easy’ ‘just stop drinking’ it’s not easy

@lynpogue: You would think with track record with gambling he himself would make sure he didn’t have access to large sums of money

@beechwoodred: Hopefully no one listens to his weekend predictions.

@HanneyDP: Unreal Sky could ever have sat down and thought yeah it’s grand to have Paul Merson be on gambling advert 🤷‍♂️

@bobbyjoe999: He says he’s struggling with gambling, but works for a company who make millions from gambling, he’s technically encouraging people to gamble

@steve_singh420: Rivalries aside, this guys football takes are also horrendous, but reading something like this is actually 💔 he needs some proper help. @PFA

@JackDelorme1991: Lots of respect to @PaulMerse for talking about this. It’s not an easy thing to bring up.

@ianmckee58: Someone do this man a favour ffs

@mattbryan7: When the fun stops… bet on table tennis 🏓

@kevhLFC: Why this guy still on sky ??

@Mithrandir3434: Yet he still works for a company that shove gambling in your face, betting in your face, if he’s serious about quitting gambling and getting help he needs to admit to himself that his work environment is damaging to his gambling habits

@crazycatman1970: I just can’t understand gambling but the government should never have relaxed gambling advertising rules. It’s in our faces every day. It’s like a drug dealer pushing their product on TV then wondering why addiction rates go through the roof 🙄

@Dexjxd: My wife knows when I take any money out. Why is he’s wife letting him be in charge of their money with a gambling addiction

@PRICEYBAY: After he has spent millions previously on gambling why is it only now his family are taking charge of his money. The horse has already bolted (at 10/1)

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