Pop Star James Arthur Got “Carried Away” with Poker and Blew £300K During Lockdown

July 27th, 2021 | by Greg Shaun

Pop star James Arthur has told a national newspaper that he became so engrossed in poker during lockdown that he had to delete the app from his phone.

James Arthur

English pop star James Arthur has admitted he got hooked on poker during the early stages of the pandemic. (Image: Twitter/James Arthur)

The English singer was entering multiple $500 buy-in tournaments on PokerStars every day when people in the UK were forced to stay at home.

He also told The Sun newspaper that living under COVID restrictions sent him into a downward spiral that caused him to smoke cannabis and eat too much junk food.

Arthur Singing the Blues During Lockdown

The timely interview about his lockdown experience was published ahead of his new album being released in October.

He said that using the PokerStars app cost him £300,000 ($416,000). It got to a point where he was spending $500 “every couple of hours” on tournaments.

After weeks of playing poker all day, he decided to delete the app as he’d got “carried away.”

Stories of celebrities getting heavily into poker aren’t new. It’s something of a revelation that James Arthur enjoys poker and was entering some of PokerStars’ biggest daily MTTs. However, it’s not a wholly unusual tale.

Problem gambling has been a major focus for the UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) since the start of the pandemic.

It initially warned operators not to take advantage of people being forced to stay at home due to COVID restrictions.

Problem Gambling Not a Problem During Pandemic

The message, by and large, hit home. The UKGC has published several reports looking into instances of problem gambling over the last 18 months.

Although there were issues in some areas, the conclusion was that lockdown wasn’t a major driver of problem gambling.

In a report titled “Exploring the Impact of COVID-19 on Gambling Behavior,” the UKGC found that, in general, people hadn’t changed their views.

If they were pro gambling before, they remained so during the pandemic and vice versa. Some respondents to the survey also reported a decrease in their gambling habits.

“Experimentation with new games and reliance on (debit) card payments can also make it harder to track spending – which has resulted in greater overall spend (though not necessarily higher stakes),” concludes the report.

Arthur’s experience with poker is regrettable. However, it shouldn’t be taken as a sign that online poker is inherently bad.

The pop singer was, by his own admission, going through a tough time and wrecking his own body. Online poker was one facet of a much larger problem.

Indeed, he eventually deleted the app and stopped playing. He could have also used PokerStars’ responsible gambling tools, including timeouts and self-exclusion.

The good news is that he’s back on the right track and preparing for the release of his album.


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