Students are betting an average of £1,600 each a year as a gambling epidemic sweeps Britain’s campuses, according to research.

A study has found the situation has become so serious that one in three students are turning to borrowed money. One in five have even resorted to betting with their student loan. One student became so addicted that in his second year he bet his entire student loan within 24 hours of receiving it.

Although nearly half of students said they spent no more than £10 per week on betting almost one in five admitted to betting more than £50 a week – the equivalent of more than £2,600 a year.

Previous research suggested 264,000 students in the UK were at risk of harm from gambling, while a further 88,000 were defined as problem gamblers. Bray Ash of Sevenoaks believes he lost about £20,000 to his addiction while he was at university. Despite counselling, he only shook off his addiction properly when he was twenty five years old.

A case with close similarities to that of Paul Merson which we looked at a few weeks ago, is that of Patrick Foster. Starting with online roulette at Durham university, gambling ultimately cost him three different careers and almost led him to take his own life.

Patrick Foster is a former cricketer and was a teacher in a private school. While teaching, he borrowed money from the parents of pupils to feed his addiction.

In one six week period he lost £35,000 and spent a total of £4 million over twelve years. How did he do it? Where did he get all the money from? The answer is simple. At one stage he had 76 accounts in 65 different names. He was about to leap in front of a train at Slough when his brother rang his mobile phone, realising from a text what he was just about to do. “’I’m sorry x” were almost the last words he ever wrote.

Patrick last placed a bet on 22nd March 2018. Following rehab, he has a new career—educating young people about the perils of gambling.