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Brendan Fevola opens up on true cost of his gambling addiction

BRENDAN Fevola’s life hasn’t always gone to plan.

The former AFL star has been plagued by off-field embarrassments and relationship woes since rising to fame as a gun full forward.

He was traded by Carlton at the end of 2009 following numerous indiscretions away from the field, culminating in his drunken performance at that year’s Brownlow Medal ceremony.

He lasted just one season at Brisbane before the Lions sacked him following another year of drama that included a nude photo controversy involving Lara Bingle and an arrest.

Fevola’s gambling addiction has also been well publicised. Despite earning a swag of money in his playing days through lucrative contracts and endorsement deals, he filed for bankruptcy in 2013. He also lost more than $300,000 during a three-day binge on the horses.

Speaking on Fox FM’s Fifi, Dave, Fev and Byron on Wednesday, the footy superstar opened up on just what it’s like living with a gambling addiction, starting by describing the time he squandered a massive win in just a few days.

“I was in Queensland and it was a Wednesday afternoon and I had a bookie so I had $2000 credit in my account and I was having a really good day,” Fevola said. “By 3am the next morning I was betting at Hong Kong, not knowing anything about the horses, just having a little bit of fun.

“I ended that morning $363,000 in front, told (his wife) Alex. She said, ‘This is amazing, can you get it out?’

“So I rang the bookie the next day to try and get it out but when you’ve got a bookie you can’t get it out until the Monday. So Sunday night I was 20 (thousand) down. So I lost $360,000 in three days. That’s my biggest loss.”

Fevola says the “worst thing” about his addiction was losing didn’t really affect him, but he understands now just how damaging his behaviour was for his family. He and Alex are now back together, but the 36-year-old says losing his family’s savings, not just his own winnings, was what hurt his wife the most and forced her to leave him.

media_cameraFevola with Alex and children Leni and Lulu.

“I did (lose a lot of our savings) and hence why Alex left the first time when we were in Brisbane. She went back because of the gambling. Now she looks after a lot of the accounts which is good,” Fevola said.

“I said to myself then I didn’t lose that ($300,000) because I’d already won it, so it’s so weird. But you did, you lost it.

“The worst thing is it didn’t actually affect me too much but if affects your family and that’s the bottom line, Alex and the kids.

“It’s an addictive thing, it’s a really bad addiction to have and it obviously cripples a lot of people’s lives.”

Fevola would bet through accounts rather than deal with cash, which he says made it difficult to accept his losses were real.

“When it’s in your account you don’t actually have the money in your hand so you’re just ringing up and saying numbers. You don’t even realise and then when it’s all gone you’re like, ‘Geez,’” Fevola said.

“You don’t think you have a problem when you’re doing it because you’re caught up in that bubble but now you think, ‘Aww geez what an absolute idiot’ because it’s just for a cheap thrill.”

Fevola says he doesn’t gamble much these days, but knows once you start, it’s a slippery slope. He knew his motivations for punting but wasn’t able to quit when he was behind, giving an insight into the psyche of gamblers who are addicted to the thrill of winning.

“If you bet $10 and win $100, you’re going to bet $100. So the more money you have, the more you bet, which is weird,” he said.

“For a gambler’s mentality it’s the chase, it’s the thrill of actually winning. And I used to bet on horses and it was that quick minute and you’d get the rush but then when you win you get excited and you want to bet more. But eventually you’re going to lose.”

media_cameraFevola’s footy career ended and his gambling spiralled out of control.

Originally published as Fev: How I lost $300k in three days

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