McNamee: I lost €200k gambling

Offaly footballer Niall McNamee has opened up further on the gambling addiction that almost destroyed his life.

The Rhode forward penned his fifth blog on the eve of the O’Byrne Cup since announcing his battle with gambling and admitted he has lost €200,000 to the illness.

“This time five years ago I was in Australia for the O’Byrne cup,” he wrote on

“We had lost the Leinster club final to Kilmacud Crokes in December and myself, my brother and a friend of ours headed out to Australia for a couple of months. I’m going to share a story about that time to highlight how bad gambling was for me even at that stage. Not a lot of people know this story. A lot of people won’t understand it, a lot of people will understand it.

“We had arrived in Melbourne a couple of days and were out having a few drinks. It was around half 12 in the morning and I was wrecked so I decided to go home and leave the boys to it. We were staying in a hostel a stones throw away from the Crown Casino in Melbourne. I was never a man for casinos, I never really saw the point of them, but this particular night in Australia I decided to call in on my way home.

“I was wandering around for a while and eventually I sat down at a roulette table. I took $100 from my wallet because that’s all the money I had on me and exchanged it for chips. I didn’t really understand the game so I sat and watched for a few minutes.

“After a short while I started to notice a pattern. If a black coloured number came up three or four times in a row, a red coloured number would usually follow. So I would wait till three or four of the same colour would come up and then I would gamble on the other colour coming up next. If I put on $50 I would get my $50 back plus $50 from the casino. It sounded so simple in my head.

“Now bear in mind I had a few drinks on board as well so the logic was pretty unstable. I sat there patiently for a couple of spins and eventually took the plunge and won. There were a couple sitting beside me and I could see they were intrigued by what I was doing.

“About an hour passed and was up a few hundred dollars but that didn’t really excite me. I was ordering more drink from the bar and was, as I thought at the time, enjoying myself. I kept playing away to my strategy and it was working pretty well. As I started to win more money I then started to take more risks.

“That’s what gambling does, it’s progressive. The first bet might start out low but it will always get higher to get a bigger adrenaline rush. Before I knew it, after guessing around 12 spins in a row correctly, I had turned my $100 into $6000. I got my chips and walked to the cashiers desk and cashed them in. I was stuffing wads of cash into every available pocket in my jeans and jacket. I was over the moon.”

McNamee’s joy would not last, though.

“We still had two months of this holiday to go, just think of the fun I could have with all this money. I went to the most expensive restaurant in the casino and ordered the most expensive steak on the menu. I sat back while I ate, dreaming of all the brilliant things I could do with this money on this holiday of a lifetime. I finished my food, left a massive tip trying to be the big shot and headed for the exit. I was going home and I couldn’t wait to tell the boys.

“I was roughly 15 metres from the exit, I looked to my right and there was another roulette table. Will I won’t I? One more won’t do any harm. In one hour I was still there. After turning $100 into $6000 earlier that night, I was now after turning $6000 into -$1000.

“I lost the $6000 I had won, I took $1000 from the bank machine, and I lost that as well. This resulted in me having to ring both my parents to send me money because I had none left.

“If only I could have just walked out of the casino that night everything would have been perfect. Actually, no it wouldn’t. I would have gone back in the next day and lost it all. That’s how us compulsive gamblers work, we can’t stop. And that’s why we don’t talk about how much money we lose.

“I’m doing it now to prove a point. If I had of left there with $100,000 I still would have lost it all eventually. It’s the emotions we go through in everyday life that put us through this turmoil. Gambling was my escape. Everything I did back then was an escape. Even the holiday was an escape. Maybe it’s Ireland, maybe I won’t be a compulsive gambler in another country. But I was just as bad, probably worse.

“I would estimate that I lost around €200,000 through gambling, but if I had access to €1,000,000 I would have lost all that as well. If someone can’t afford to lose €10 in a bookies but places the bet anyway, well then they have the same problem I had. The money isn’t the issue, the fact that we can’t walk those extra 15 metres to get out of the casino, that’s the issue.

“I’m not doing this to try and have sensational stories for people. Anyone who suffers from this addiction will tell the exact same story, the time and place will be different but that sense of suffering and helplessness will be the same. So take strength from the fact that you’re not alone.”

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