From the outside, ‘Lucky’ was cheerful and outgoing. Inside, he was fighting a demon who saw him empty his bank account every day.

In most aspects of his life, Lucky was just that.

The Brisbane man, 27, is a talented cricketer who graduated from college with a thriving small business.

But for years, Emmanuel “Lucky” Peterson’s cheerful facade hid a dark secret – an addiction that saw him hiding in the bathroom and draining his bank account “every day” to its lowest.

He was one of the Australians contributing to the country’s $ 25 billion gaming industry.

The Australian Gambling Association released a report which showed that young men (18-34) were the most likely to sign up for new gambling accounts, increase their frequency and monthly spending, from $ 687 to $ 1,075, and be at risk of gambling-related damage.

Sports betting is the second most popular market after horse racing, according to the study.

For Lucky, part of it was a sporting lifestyle that led him to aim for betting tops.

“I had played for an Under-19 team from Queensland in January 2012 which won the national championship. I felt on top of the world, like I was invincible, and when I came back I found that a few friends love betting and horses and that’s how it started, ”he said. he declares.

While Lucky’s betting started off casually – a few punters with friends over a beer at the pub, it quickly got out of hand when he started using betting apps.

“At the time, I was going to the TAB to place bets. It was a sad place, nobody smiled there, ”he explained.

“It’s gotten really, really bad over the last four or five years. I was putting all my money on it. I would start each day with zero dollars in my bank account, then I would practice cricket all day, then I would deposit that money into my Sportsbet account and bet until there was none left overnight.

In an emotional post shared with other cricketers after deciding to tell the truth, Lucky detailed the depths of his “obsessive cycle”.

“I would bet in the car, at weddings, at parties, at bathroom breaks, until late at night, in the morning, before and after cricket. It would be anywhere and everywhere at the push of a button, ”he said.

“Over the past few years I was distancing myself from my best friends, not answering calls or planning to see them, distancing myself from my parents and family (because I was embarrassed and ashamed), my le cricket and general training suffered because I had no desire to train / (I would) not be in the right frame of mind.

“I was constantly lying to my family, friend (now ex) and friends to keep it hidden even though my loved ones knew something was up (family, friends, cricket coaches).

“I didn’t want to see anyone or go anywhere and I was happy to be sitting home alone in hiding.”

Lucky said he knew he had to tell the truth after a particularly low moment at a family event in March.

“We were all sitting at an RSL having a drink and I had $ 31 in my account (debit card and overall savings combined). The whole time I was there with friends I was also nervous because I had no money in my account as I had bought the first round of drinks, ”he wrote in his message.

“I sat there, petrified in case I had to yell another trick or even go buy lunch. It happened on a regular basis, which is why I never went out with friends or spent money on things – I just played it all.

“There are other examples of friends and family calling me on the way home from training to tell me to walk past a store and buy drinks or milk and I would try to find coins under my car seat to pay while I ‘I just emptied my account on a horse race that I had lost.

The day after the RSL event, Lucky spoke to his then-girlfriend about the problem.

Taken by his response, he posted a lengthy post on social media explaining the issues he was having with the game and how it was going to change.

His sister took control of his finances, he began to see a psychologist and refrained from making large bets.

There have been waves of support for the cricketer who has received over 600 messages from friends – asking him for help or applauding him for coming forward.

“I’ve had older cricket referees messaging me about their issues, other people you wouldn’t expect. As well as dozens and dozens of people my age, ”he said.

Lucky now wants to take them further by speaking in schools and sports clubs about the dangers of betting.

“It struck me, for example, I run a cricket academy and we invite guys to talk about alcoholism and drug addiction and nothing about betting,” he said.

“Everything is so accessible now. I was betting thousands of dollars and never got a message for help from betting companies, I had an account manager I spoke to who gave me tickets, but he never was a question of whether I was going to get out of it.

He creates an organization called Punt the Punt which hopes to raise awareness of the dangers of betting.

Besides his bank account, Lucky has noticed the benefits of controlling his addiction in other areas of his life.

He consults a psychologist who has given him greater clarity with his business and his sport.

“I still dream of playing cricket for Queensland. Since I quit gambling, I have regained that motivation and that hunger, ”said Lucky. “I’m enjoying playing again, I don’t think about the money or those other things that were in my head.”

His performance has also improved with the South Brisbane skipper achieving scores of 48, 73 and 65 points in the first three rounds of cricket since making his problem clear.