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I Lost My Entire Savings To My Gambling Addiction

My Money Mistake is a weekly PiggyVest series that explores the worst money mistakes real Nigerians have made, and the lessons they learnt from it.

For this week’s episode of My Money Mistake, we spoke to a 23-year-old artisan who regrets his gambling past. He talks about taking a loan to bet and losing everything, including his entire savings. 

Could you tell me your biggest money mistake?

I gambled with a loan I took and lost everything. When I tried to win back the money with my savings, I lost that too. Now, I have no savings and a loan to pay.

Wow. How did you get into gambling? 

In 2019, a friend of mine introduced me to betting. He taught me how to observe games to better my odds. When I tried it the first time, I won ₦12,000 with ₦500. 

It was an intoxicating feeling. I thought if I could win this much as a beginner, then this could be how I hit it big. That was how my addiction started. 

At what point did it start to feel like an addiction?

When I put my phone as collateral for a bet. 

Wait, what?

I went to the betting shop with ₦3,000 and lost everything. It was my first loss. I didn’t have more money to keep playing, so I dropped my phone as collateral and resumed betting. It was worth ₦24,000 then. By the time I was done, I had made ₦48,825 — twice what my phone was worth. 

Wow. That’s lucky. 

Yeah. I’ve always been lucky with my bets. Beyond observing games and understanding players, I had a lot of lucky guesses. So much so that my friend, who saw me cashing out every other time, decided to partner with me.

What was the partnership agreement?

He would bring the money, I would place the bets, and we would split the profit 60-40. In the event of a loss, he would solely bear it. The arrangement worked for me because, for as long as we used his money, I never lost a single game. 

How much funding did he bring for the games?

He was bringing ₦20,000 to ₦30,000, and the bets we placed were on visual games. 

How does that work?

It’s a soccer zoom simulator that requires you to predict matches between two or more virtual teams. Those were the only bets we placed because we could do multiple games, and it’s faster than live matches.

So, what changed?

I got greedy. In 2020, I took a ₦180,000 loan from him (my partner) to play the games. My addiction had already peaked, and I was hoping to hit it big. I played over 30 games and won only seven — that’s technically a loss. The profit didn’t cover the capital at all. So, I withdrew my savings to try my luck again.

Excuse me?

LOL. I had some money in crypto, about ₦108,000. I withdrew everything and played another batch of games. 

Hmm. What was the grand plan?

I wanted to make back the loan, increase my savings and cash out big. Unfortunately, I lost everything. I even tried using my earnings from the odd jobs I got that period; nothing worked. Once I started losing, it went downhill from there. I couldn’t concentrate anymore. 

Why do you think this happened??

I got cocky. I didn’t imagine losing at that scale, especially because I usually won. After that, I spoke to a friend. He advised me strongly, and since then, I haven’t placed a single bet. 

That’s amazing. What about your friend’s loan?

I told him, and he was very understanding about the whole thing. I’m still paying him back as I earn. I’ve returned ₦140,000, and should be done with this debt soon.

That’s good. What’s your biggest lesson from all of this?

I’ve learnt that whatever your sweat doesn’t go into isn’t yours. Back then, when I thought of all the ways to make money quickly, betting was the only one that was “clean money”. I took my chance with it and regretted it. I’m glad I’m in a better place today. 

Check back every Friday by 10 AM for a new My Money Mistake episode. Read the past episodes here. If you would like to share your story for the series, fill this form.

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