I became a problem gambling counsellor because it was a subject close to my own heart and family…
My mum won the lottery not once but twice…unheard of and now she lives in a little caravan. She tells me she’s happy and I have to accept that but once she lived in a beautiful 6-bedroom house on a double block in Sydney. It was worth a couple mill and she had a multi-million dollar company. Now it’s all gone! She believed she was lucky and started playing the poker machines and eventually got hooked. She was well-known at her local club and she loved the attention. Sure sometimes she would pull off the Jackpot and brag about the wins but we never knew how much she was gambling until she sold the company without our knowledge (my dad had passed away). Soon after she sold the family home and moved away. It’s what motivated me to do what I do.
I also visit a Female Correctional Centre (Prison) each fortnight and see women who have stolen millions of dollars from their employers to fund their gambling habit. Gambling doesn’t discriminate – one lady is in her 70’s, one is a young mum of 30 and very beautiful. All the women are devastated by their action. What strikes me the most about all these women I see is how nice they are and how sad they are that they didn’t ask for help. Hopefully upon release they will continue to see a Gambling Counsellor and not go down the same treacherous path. I’m saddened by their stories and enjoy working with them. I know I help a little because they tell me, and due to the unusual circumstances we form a very close, honest therapeutic relationship. These women know they have paid a heavy price for their gambling addiction. Some have suffered bankruptcy, marriage breakdown, loss of children. Many are unable to work in their skilled position ever again. They have suffered loss of the family home, loss of friends and mental health issues like depression are common.
I think my mum got off lightly. She only gambled what she had and we still have her with us. She isn’t locked away in prison like some problem gamblers.
It’s so tempting to chance our ‘luck’, but the odds are stacked against us. The gambling industry is designed to take our money. How else do you think the casinos, pubs and clubs survive? On average, one pub poker machine makes the pub $100,000 and sadly most of that money is from problem gamblers not the social group who play for fun and have gambling under control.