Kimberly Wadsworth

Kimberly grew up in a home full of laughter and affection, the daughter of Kay and her husband Andrew, a Sandhurst-trained British Army officer who had gone on to work as a financial advisor.

At age seven, the family moved to Germany where within a couple of years Kimberly was a fluent German speaker. At age 11, back in England, Kimberly enrolled at the Duke of York’s Royal Military School where she became a junior under officer (JUO) and made friendships that lasted all her life.

Kimberly was an outgoing young woman and developed a very successful career in marketing. However, she started gambling in her twenties and this increased following the sudden death of her father.

In the beginning, Kimberly gambled on FOBTs and at land-based casinos but then started playing online casino games. It seems that her addiction was very rapid. She was given “VIP” status by one of the companies she gambled with.

Young woman with her mother, under pink flowers on holiday
Kimberly and her mum, Kay.

Kimberly was then groomed and given “free bet” bonuses and similar promotional offers that incentivised her to keep gambling, even when she was clearly losing large, unsustainable amounts of money.

She had sometimes spoken about her gambling with her mum and the family had occasionally given her money. But they had no idea of the real seriousness of her addiction or what it might lead to.

Shortly before she died, Kay took Kimberly to Portugal where the family holidayed regularly, and they even booked a session of hypnotherapy back in England. But she never made it to the appointment and despite these repeated attempts to stop and support from Kay, Kimberly took her life in 2018, aged 32.

Following her daughter’s death, Kay has been calling for more help for women struggling with gambling disorder, something that could well have saved Kimberly’s life. Kay is also calling for a ban on so-called “VIP” schemes and an advertising ban, especially using celebrities to hide the risks.

Gambling disorder is often seen as overwhelmingly a male problem. Whilst it’s true that certain gambling products are specifically targeted at men, there has been a steep increase in products designed to appeal to women in recent years. Women are thought to make up around 30 per cent of those suffering with gambling disorder in the UK.