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Lions midfielder reveals depths of gambling addiction


Brisbane Lions midfielder Allen Christensen has admitted to blowing "hundreds of thousands of dollars" betting on horse races while in the depths of a gambling addiction.

Christensen made the revelation on his podcast Addicted To The Game, declaring, "I'm pretty pumped to get my story out there".

The former Cat said his gambling problem was the catalyst for him requesting a trade north, acknowledging "everything I did revolved around racing".

"It was always about, 'I've just got to be on every race, I want to be on every race," a candid and courageous Christensen explained.

"It consumed so much of my life.

"It's a craving, like a real want to bet.

"I needed to get out on the field to stop thinking about betting."

Christensen admitted to betting on overseas races, often during the early hours of the morning while his partner was asleep next to him.

"It would be 2am and I would have training the next day; I would turn up to training absolutely wrecked," Christensen remarked.

Like most gambling addicts, the 27-year-old experienced plenty of highs and lows.

Christensen said he manipulated and fooled family and friends in order to fuel his addiction.

"I'd deposited just over $300,000 into my account, I don't know how much I took out, but it was sort of like a cycle," said Christensen.

"I'd say definitely hundreds of thousands of dollars (lost), at the track, at the TAB.

"My biggest outlay was $18,000 on a horse. It got caught on the rails... losing that amount of money... then the next race I acted like it never really happened.

"The biggest amount I won was around $50,000 in a day, but I think I lost a lot of that over the next week.

"It was like a rollercoaster, there was no consistency"

After 65 games in four seasons for the Cats, Christensen was sent to Brisbane in exchange for pick 21 during the 2014 trade period.

Christensen confirmed Brisbane was made aware of his gambling problem recruiting him.

"I told them absolutely everything," he said.

The 2011 premiership player has no doubt that getting out of Geelong has changed his life.

"Ever since I got the trade to Brisbane I was able to remove those triggers from my life and become that person I wanted to be," Christensen explained.

"At the time I thought I needed to make a decision for me to stop that cycle.

"Everywhere I walked in Geelong (I would think) 'that's the pub that I turned $30 into $5,000 or that's the pub that we turned $1,000 into $5'.

"Looking back now, I don't know if I could have gone cold turkey straight away if I didn't leave Geelong.

"I'm forever grateful to Brisbane for taking a chance on me at the time, because there was a lot of shit being spoken about me."

Christensen thanked then Geelong football manager Neil Balme for being incredibly supportive and non-judgmental.

"He (Balme) came and spoke to me and told me he's been hearing things about me owing money to some people," said Christensen.

"He said, 'we obviously need to help you'.

"I'm forever grateful for that because that was a lightbulb moment for me."

Christensen said he went through his bank accounts a couple of weeks ago and established that the last time he deposited money into a betting account was on October 2, 2014, before he was traded to the Lions.

"It was pretty embarrassing actually, going back through them," said Christensen.

Christensen wants to "break down barriers" because gambling addiction "is often shied away from".

He said "there was probably nothing that I could do that would stop me from having a bet" back in 2012.

Christensen's plight reached its nadir when he was "getting $5 and trying to turn that into $200 so I can pay my rent".

Asked if he thinks there is a gambling culture within the AFL, Christensen said: "I think it's just that there's a lot of time and a lot of disposable cash, to be honest."

Brisbane has only recently announced a deal with corporate betting agency Neds. It's believed the Lions spoke to Christensen about the sponsorship arrangement.

Christensen joins now-retired quartet David Schwarz, Daniel Ward, Simon Goodwin and Brent Guerra as players that have opened up about gambling addiction.

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