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"Depression / OCD causes gambling" as a defence in court?  



My brother has admitted he has gambled away over £100,000 in the last 12 years.

He says he doesn't have a gambling problem - he says his real problem is his depression /  OCD and he uses online casinos because gambling makes his symptoms better.  

He says that his depression / OCD is so bad and different and unique that he can't ever be treated or cured so he will carry on gambling as he sees it as an alternative therapy.

He does take tablets for depression and tried group therapy about 7 years ago but stopped going because he said it wasn't working. He hasn't seen his doctor for at least 2 years - just gets repeat prescriptions.  

He has borrowed and stolen from family, friends and employers and has lied to payday loan companies about his finances to get more cash - he has £1,000s of debt.

He thinks he's about to be taken to court for theft and says he will use "depression / OCD causes gambling" as a defence and try to get an expert to testify that this is true.

Is this realistic? Has it worked before? Any thoughts and advice would be welcome. PS I know I can't change him. 

This topic was modified 1 month ago by Miniver
Posted : 19th August 2020 7:15 pm
Forum admin

Dear @miniver,

welcome to the Forum and thank you for sharing what you have been going through with your brother. 

We can not give legal advice on the Forum but I would recommend you speak to your local CAB about this:

It isn't unusual that people use gambling as a form of self-medication, however when gambling becomes a problem it will further negatively impact the individual's mental health. It is definitely not a form of 'alternative therapy' because gambling related harm can be so wide-reaching and serious. 

It sounds like he has been creating a lot of stress for you and others in the family with his behavior and I wonder if he knows how this is impacting you?

You are right, you won't be able to change him, he has to want to change. And it sounds like he's not at the point where he is willing to take responsibility for his gambling problem or to get help and support for his mental health issues. 

What I would recommend is that you try and change your approach to the situation and focus on yourself. See what support you can get from family and friends and please get in touch with us on our Helpline or Netline here:

The adviser will be able to give you the space to talk things through and advise and signpost you to further support and information and even refer you to one-to-one treatment. 

Wishing you all the very best,


Forum Admin

Posted : 19th August 2020 11:01 pm

Hi Eva - thanks so much for replying.

You asked "I wonder if he knows how this is impacting you?"

He doesn't care - his standard reply is "you have everything, I have nothing". He only ever contacts a family member when he wants money - when we used to lend it to him, he never said thank you - it was just expected. When one of us refused, he got really annoyed and then simply started on someone else.  Now family won't lend him money he's started on friends and colleagues.  Recently one poor woman nearly got evicted because he wouldn't pay her back the rent money he'd borrowed - he just said "well she can wait" (I made him pay it all back out of his salary before he spent it).

He gets annoyed when people ask him what the money is for - he says that's "controlling". He wanted me to act as guarantor for a £5,000 loan and said that even if he didn't pay them back it shouldn't matter as I could (allegedly)! easily afford to pay them. I said no. It's as though he wants a millionaire lifestyle paid for by other people. I sometimes think that we all spoiled him too much as the youngest and the only boy in our extended family - is it our fault he has such a sense of entitlement? Or is it just how gamblers behave?

Phew - writing all that has made me feel much better - I needed a rant! But back to the plot ...

It wasn't so much the legal aspect I was asking for thoughts on, but rather does depression / OCD really cause him to gamble or whether it's just an excuse he uses, or even whether it's true and a vicious circle: he's depressed so he gambles so he's depressed  or, he gambles so he's depressed so he gambles. I just don't know which one it might be.

I would really like to know if any other person on here has ever been in a similar situation either as an addict or a family member where the gambler had no intention of stopping and what it took him / her to see that he / she had a problem and try to sort him / her self out. I keep reading that a gambler has to hit rock bottom to change but what does that mean in practice?

Thanks again Eva for replying - it was so nice to hear from someone who understands and cares.

Posted : 20th August 2020 3:35 pm

Hi Miniver.

I am not a legal advisor but I can say that depression does lead people to try gambling and from there they get hooked.

Its a reason and it does have to be taken into consideration in my view. Whether its a defence that would be good enough for a court is another matter.

You can only help him if he is ready for help so my main advice would be to protect yourself and dont lend him any money. I cant stress that enough so you are almost asking a question that cant be answered here until I know if he is taking any steps to seek help. I dont know how much you talk to him about it

I know its painful to watch. This tragically is what gambling does to people. Obviously he cant go on like that and he sounds very depressed.

People will need to see he is trying to change and he needs professional help. He has a severe gambling problem and severe depression. Not to face this is delusion and they are two mental illnesses working in tandem.

I hope he does seek help. You can tell him you love him and try to work out what moral support you can give him.

However is he is not ready to stop it will just drag you down. You can only tell him so many times  and then its up to him

Best wishes from everyone on the forum

This post was modified 1 month ago by Joydivider
Posted : 20th August 2020 6:33 pm

Court is the best place for him, he is definitely an addict even if his OCD is driving it he is well aware of his actions. Even if this is shown to be the case it will only get him off the financial hook, I would imagine ithit wouodwwould also be conditional  on him having to put proper blocks in place to stop future gambling.


It's not easy living with an addict as you are well aware. Keep posting and reading on here so you get the support you need. 

Posted : 22nd August 2020 9:32 am
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