“If there was a $2 coin sitting in the car and I was passing a TAB I was straight in there.”
The pull for me was huge. It was like I didn’t have a choice. It’s taken me 47 years of gambling to realise this problem was ruining my life and it all came crumbling down around me.
Growing up, my father was a heavy drinker and he was always away somewhere. I don’t have much knowledge of a childhood because I was always looking after my siblings.
When I was 15 I got a job and left home to live in Invercargill.
Soon after I placed my first bet. I was at a friend’s house and we were watching the horse races when he said “did you know you can put a bet on them?”, I didn’t have a clue. He said “If you’ve got a dollar or two, we could make a few more.”
I soon discovered the race track where I spent most of my weekends drinking, betting, making money and losing even more. My new circle of friends included horse owners and jockeys. The circle was there and I jumped right in.
On my way home from work I’d stop at the TAB. If there was a $2 coin in my car it had to be used. If I won big I’d use the winnings to bet again. I got as much thrill out of a $2 bet as a $600 bet.
The years went by and I got a great job, I was married and had children. My wife knew about my betting but not to the extent. I was managing money for the company I worked for, and I was always responsible with it.
But I started thinking. If I spent a lot, there was a chance I could make a lot, and then I could put it all back right?
I started using the money. I was in a little world of my own. The thundering of hooves, the trotting, the thrill of a win, it was all so exciting. One day I placed a $49 bet and won $21,000. I thought wow if that happens every day then I’m fine. So I tried. It didn’t work.
I got really good at hiding what I was doing but then I got caught.
I got into a lot of trouble. But the relief of being caught was actually amazing. I stopped betting, just like that. I haven’t placed a bet since. It was almost like I needed, or wanted, to be caught.
I came to Nga Kete last year and have been receiving counselling and participating in the Art Therapy Programme.
I’d stopped betting before I arrived here, but the counselling has really opened everything up for me. We talked about everything a lot and it’s been a pretty big eye opener as to what I’ve done.
I don’t miss the gambling at all. At the moment there’s about $20 worth of $2 coins in my car and I have no desire to take it to the TAB. There’s nothing there. I just don’t want to hurt anybody anymore.
There’s only ever one winner and that’s the TAB, and it’s taken me 47 years to realise that.