She gambled away her house without telling her partner

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five years ago Michelle Singlehurst decided not to tell her partner their house sale had gone through she had her own ideas about how to spend the money.
It was the culmination of months of lies to cover up what had become a devastating gambling addiction.

It first began with playing the lottery online, because it was easier than filling out a slip than she went on with scratch cards. Michelle, aged 53 had always found playing games calming she had consoles like the Nintendo Wii and a Gamecube when she was younger. She would go off and play games like Super Mario or her GameCube it was her way to escape from reality.

When she saw that you could play games online she was hooked.
At that time she was under a lot of stress, as she says her mother was being neglected in her care home.

“She nearly died from dehydration,” says Michelle. “I stepped in and got her to hospital. Luckily she got better, but it was touch-and-go.”

Like the computer games had been, gambling became an escape. She was particularly attracted to bingo games, which offered bonuses.

Before she knew it she was gambling in every spare time between working and looking after her elderly mother and daughter. She slept alone because she wakes up at the slightest noises so she also gambled at night and sometimes she would stay up until two or three in the morning.

At the beginning of her gambling addiction, she got excited when she won, but she quickly started to feel quite numb. Gambling became something like a sleeping pill.

Michelle opened accounts with nine different companies. Many of them gave her VIP status, which comes with special perks and free gifts. She was invited to sports events and given vouchers to spend on shopping, as well as gambling. “A message would pop up on your account offering more money to gamble with. Looking back, I just feel like I had my eyes shut.”

Michelle worked as an independent financial adviser, earning up to £25,000 a year. She sees the irony in that now.

When she had gambled all she had in the bank, she took out a loan without telling her partner, Chris, and borrowed tens of thousands from friends, saying it was for tax bills.

Then she and Chris, a lorry driver, decided to sell the family home in Ash Vale, Surrey.

They were renting a larger house with a granny annex for Michelle’s mother, whom Michelle had taken out of the care home. Initially, they rented out their old home but then decided to move permanently.

Chris, who says he “isn’t technically minded”, trusted Michelle to look after all the finances and their bank accounts, and she also dealt with the solicitor and estate agent. In 2016 the house sold for £440,000 (€502.568,00 or $609.047,56) – and it was when the sale completed that she made the fateful decision to say nothing about it.

They found a buyer very quickly, but she kept lying about it and making excuses. And of course, their relationship was longer than 30 years.
Then, over the next five months, she gambled away every penny – most of it on online slots.
Her mother died during that time and Michelle says that for that reason, or perhaps because of her addiction, her mind was in a fog.

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