“It consumed so much of my life. It’s a craving, like a real want to bet. I needed to get out on the field to stop thinking about betting.
“It would be 2am and I would have training the next day; I would turn up to training absolutely wrecked.”
Christensen said that he had lost “definitely hundreds of thousands of dollars” betting on races, whether at the track or via betting accounts, and that he could lose massive sums on a race and then move on to the next one “like it never really happened”.
“I’d deposited just over $300,000 into my account, I don’t know how much I took out, but it was sort of like a cycle,” said Christensen.
“My biggest outlay was $18,000 on a horse. It got caught on the rails … losing that amount of money … then the next race I acted like it never really happened.
“The biggest amount I won was around $50,000 in a day, but I think I lost a lot of that over the next week. It was like a rollercoaster, there was no consistency.”
Christensen, now 27, said the “lightbulb moment” came for him when former Geelong football manager Neil Balme spoke to him after the 2014 season about rumours that he owed money.
“He came and spoke to me and told me he’s been hearing things about me owing money to some people,” said Christensen. “He said, ‘We obviously need to help you’.
“I’m forever grateful for that because that was a lightbulb moment for me.”
The trade to the Lions in 2014 signalled a fresh start for Christensen, who had played in Geelong’s 2011 premiership side, and he said he told the Lions “absolutely everything”.
“Ever since I got the trade to Brisbane I was able to remove those triggers from my life and become that person I wanted to be,” Christensen said.
“At the time I thought I needed to make a decision for me to stop that cycle.
“Everywhere I walked in Geelong [I would think] ‘that’s the pub that I turned $30 into $5000 or that’s the pub that we turned $1000 into $5’.
“Looking back now, I don’t know if I could have gone cold turkey straight away if I didn’t leave Geelong.
“I’m forever grateful to Brisbane for taking a chance on me at the time, because there was a lot of shit being spoken about me.”
Christensen said he had not put money into a betting account since October 2014, and he wanted to share his story with the community to help break down barriers around gambling addiction.