A courier package containing a threat of prosecution was the turning point in his addiction.
After 20 years of gambling, playing the pokies daily for 5-10 years and losing tens of thousands of dollars he realized it was time to seek help.
He has not played a pokie machine in 12 months.
This is his story:
I still remember the first bet I ever placed.
I was at the races with my Dad. I loved going to the races with dad when I was just a kid. He enjoyed the horses and I followed it too.
He asked me to pick a horse and we put a $1 bet on it. We won $3.20.
Since that first bet I’ve been married and had children. I love my children and I absolutely loved bringing them up and being involved in everything they did.
My marriage was OK, but often I felt as though I was trapped and could never do anything right.
I quickly became resentful that I couldn’t have my time out.
On a Friday the boys from work would go for a beer, and so I started going with them. There was a bit of TAB gambling and pokies but nothing major.
“Ah pokies. How do these things work?”
First I put $20 in. But then it became $40, then it became $60, then I’d win the jackpot. “It was like wow, I’ll hide that, that’s mine!”
Quickly things spiraled out of control. I took out a personal loan to continue gambling but then I’d have to get another loan to pay off the first.
“It was my time out. Bugger the world. I’m gonna go hide in my wee bubble and win some money. It was my secret, my space.”
I know now that was totally irresponsible. My wife was at home with the kids and I was at the pub, but at the time I didn’t care.
I’d often sneak away from work to play the pokies. I just had to go. I had to win back the money that I’d lost.
Once I tried counting the days I didn’t go to the pokies but it would only get to maybe two. At New Year I’d think right that’s it I’m not going to go to the pokies anymore. I’d last until January 02.
I had to go. I don’t know why. It was totally out of control.
I was at the pokies every day and I constantly blamed my wife because that was my way of dealing with it. It was my way of getting away from the stresses of the world.
I knew it was a problem but I didn’t do anything about it because I’d think ‘it’ll be alright tomorrow’.
Things got worse. I was leaving work to play the pokies and on the weekends I’d lie about where I was going.
Finances were getting out of control and we needed to consolidate. We were thousands of dollars in debt.
But even that didn’t stop me.
I was taking out loans again until one day I was found out.
It took a couple of attempts to stay away from the pokies. The wakeup call came in the form of a courier package with a letter warning I’d be prosecuted if I was seen in the pub again because I’d applied for a multi venue self exclusion.
That scared me. Being prosecuted would completely wreck my life. I haven’t been back since. That was the scare I needed.
I came to Nga Kete for problem gambling counselling. It’s really helped to talk about the problem. I’ve learnt that I live life on the edge and push things to the limit.
I’m excluded for another year and I wish those two-year exclusions could be life-time bans. I intend to refresh it once it’s finished.
I have very supportive family and friends who all know about my problem now. I’m much more focused at work and at home. I’ve seriously burnt some bridges but I’m still there and still working at rebuilding trust.
I resent pokie machines and I’m angry at myself because I know I’m a sensible guy. All along I knew there was a problem but I always thought something would come up. It was just ignorance. I was in my bubble and I ignored the whole world.
Now I’m fully committed that it’s my problem and I’ll have this problem forever but I don’t gamble now and I’m looking forward to a gamble-free future.