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Personal stories

Gambling harm isn’t just about losing money. It can affect how you feel.

We know it can be hard but talking about it means you can start to feel better.

Here are some real life stories of people who opened up and talked about the harm they were experiencing and got the support they needed. Now they share their story with you.

Share your story - Help others by sharing your story here

Lived Experience


Ian Brett

Before he was 10 years old, Ian was earning money then finding adults willing to place bets for him. He went from casinos to rehabilitation units in a downwards spiral until he approached Gambler’s Help ready and eager to change.

Read Ian's story


While Steve’s friends could bet a little then walk away, he spent years maxxing out his credit cards and feeling ashamed of his hidden gambling habit. Now his self-awareness and determination to live openly and honestly keep him on track.

Read Steve's story


Jan dreamed of a happily-ever-after marriage but instead found herself mopping up after the crises created by her husband’s gambling.

Read Jan's story
Patrick running.jpeg


Running and his determination to be a better dad and worker helped Patrick move on from gambling.

Read Patrick's story
Close up of a male writing in a notebook


Gambling was meant to be a shortcut to retirement, but in reality, it was a roadblock. Once Terry woke up to the truth, he quit.

Read Terry's story
A cyclist on his bicycle on the pier


Stuart battled against drugs and gambling for years and finally quit after walking out of a counselling session.

Read Stuart's story
Close up of a person writing in a notebook


Carol found support in her son’s love, and her counsellor to overcome a pokies habit.

Read Carol's story

Rob Daniel

After years when his gambling habit ran out of control, Rob’s openness to treatment and support helped him turn his life around.

Read Rob's story
Michaela Settle


Michaela Settle knew deep down that her then-husband was gambling, but denial was her ‘survival instinct’.

Read Michaela's story


Drew Rooke, author of the book One last spin: the power and peril of the pokies, discussed the lure of electronic gaming machines with the Victorian Responsible Gambling Foundation during Gambling Harm Awareness Week.

Read Drew's story
Joey Li

Joey Li

They saved a deposit to build a new house but had to use that money to pay off debts.

Read Joey's story

Kevin Chan

I felt stressed when I was away from gaming. It was my coping mechanism and my lifestyle.

Read Kevin's story

Nathan Buckley

Collingwood coach Nathan Buckley talks lockdown, gambling harm and the vital role of teamwork – on and off the field.

Read Nathan's story

Uncle Daryl Smith

Uncle Daryl Smith from the Victorian Aboriginal Health Service says while there’s no quick fix to giving up gambling, he got there in the end, and as a youth worker he’s helping kids avoid going down the same path.

Read Uncle Daryl Smith's story
Daniel leans against a huge tree in a church yard and smiles at the camera


Comedian Daniel Connell lost around $100,000 to sports and race betting over six years before a gamble of a different kind changed his life.

Read Daniel's story
Headshot of Mario wearing a black hoodie in front of a graffiti wall, looking at the camera.


Mario Bird found gambling at 16 and says it was a match made in heaven. Now, after a hard-won recovery, he wants young men, in particular, to know what it can do to your life.

Read Mario's story
Headshot of a woman with dark, bobbed hair and wearing a blue suit


Sunenna moved from Fiji to Australia to be with the ‘man of her dreams’. But after four months of marriage, her life started to unravel. Sharing her story to let others know they’re not alone has also helped her move on from her sorrow.

Read Sunenna's story
Photo of a middle-aged man leaning against a brick wall, smiling, a sunlit city alley behind him


After years of addiction, Peter is an expert on the havoc gambling can wreak, including on relationships, health and career. He’s now on a committee advising the Victorian Responsible Gambling Foundation on how to reduce gambling harm.

Read Peter's story
Photo of man with short dark hair pensively smiling, wearing a white short-sleeved shirt and jeans, his hands in his pockets, standing on a city pavement, his reflection in the window next to him.


Paul Fung graduated from being a young child observing gambling to a man who gave up his education, career and family relationships to gamble. Losing everything finally encouraged him to seek help and share his story as part of his recovery.

Read Paul's story
A man in a room, seen from behind and in deep conversation with a woman who is listening to him with a caring expression


Arabic counsellor Hoda Nahal helps people from Arabic-speaking backgrounds who are affected by gambling harm, as well as educates communities about the risks of gambling and the help services available.

Read Nabil's story
Chandana Rao smiling whilst sitting outside in the sun with a background of tall trees.


When my partner and I moved to Australia with our baby daughter, I saw it as a haven and a place for a fresh start. Little did I know the power of the gambling culture in our new home.

Read Chandana's story
Photo of a smiling middle-aged woman with a grey curly bob wearing glasses, a blue jumper and blue and white striped scarf, standing in a native garden on a sunny day.


Gambling on the pokies was a solution that quickly became a problem for Anna Bardsley. A member of the Foundation’s Lived Experience Advisory Committee, Anna says storytelling plays a big part in her recovery from addiction.

Read Anna's story
Man in his 30s wearing casual blue winter clothing stands on the footpath of a narrow Melbourne street and smiles at the camera.


Mat Crompton’s love for sport turned into an online sports betting compulsion that isolated him from friends and family and consumed his early 20s. His way out was to ask why: why was he gambling and what could life be like if he gave it up.

Read Mat's story
Photo of middle-aged woman with short fair hair wearing glasses and a blue and white T-shirt, standing smiling in front of a body of water, trees in the foreground, boats on the water, and bushland on the coast opposite


After nearly 30 years of a destructive pokies addiction, Ann has drawn the line, with support from her family and a group of ‘lovely, caring’ people to whom she’s bared her soul, but never met.

Read Ann's story
Photo of a smiling middle-aged man with short brown hair, wearing glasses, a white polo shirt, navy jacket and red scarf, sitting against a tree, parklands behind.


Brendan Ivermee grew up surrounded by gambling and went on to develop his own destructive and secret gambling problem. Now, three years after being freed from prison, he’s on a mission to help others start over.

Read Brendan's story
Photo of an older man with short grey hair and a grey moustache, wearing a blue and white striped polo shirt, standing in a suburban driveway, hands in pockets, smiling at the camera.


Teenage gambling seems a new problem. But Ken Wolfe got caught in a nightmare of debt and destruction 50 years ago. It lasted for decades. Now he’s reaching out to young blokes heading the same way.

Read Ken's story


Self-confessed fantasy football obsessive Tony Wilson laments the gamblification of his favourite pastime, and asks what effect it will have on all the kids with dream teams.

Read Tony's story


Having freed himself from his own gambling nightmare, Lived Experience Advisory Committee member Shayne Rodgers is using the life-changing lessons he learnt to help others.

Read Shayne's story
Photo of middle-aged man with short red hair and beard, arms folded and looking pensively off to his right, trees in the background.


Having bet on horses since he was 17, Bill says winning streaks always end the same way: losing big. But his final winning streak ended when he was also stricken with grief. Today, helping others, he feels better than ever about himself.

Read Bill's story
Photo of an older woman with short brown hair and earrings, wearing a dark grey sweater with gold dots, standing in a room with sunlight coming through a window to her right, smiling at the camera.


Carolyn Crawford went to prison for stealing from her employer to support her pokies addiction, and now shares her story to encourage others to seek help for gambling harm earlier rather than later.

Read Carolyn's story
Photo of a young man in a blue shirt with a slight smile looking directly at the camera.


A friend’s compassion helped a young man gain control of his gambling addiction and find new purpose supporting young refugees and migrants to achieve their dreams.

Read Bayu's story
Photo of smiling young man with short brown hair and cropped brown beard, wearing a grey T-shirt, leaning, arms folded, against a brick wall with colourful mosaics adhered to it, a path and trees in the background.


Fred Rubinstein, a member of the Victorian Responsible Gambling Foundation’s Lived Experience Advisory Committee, says it took stealing from his mum and her threat to call the police to force him to accept help for a gambling addiction.

Read Fred's story
Tyrone Mitchell standing against building smiling at camera


Tyrone Mitchell grew up with gambling around him, and now it’s all his friends want to do at the pub. He wants his community and his mates to realise what they’re losing and to break the habit.

Read Tyrone's story
Woman in her 70s stands in front of a street and some trees, her face slightly in shadow as she smiles faintly for the camera.


Lynda Genser’s pokies habit led to a criminal charge, but she quit with the support of her family and is now making a difference as a member of the Victorian Responsible Gambling Foundation’s Lived Experience Advisory Committee.

Read Lynda's story


Winning an $800 jackpot at the pokies triggered 10 difficult years for Maori woman Korina Waitai. After a wake-up call from her son, she turned her life around – with help from her counsellor and her friends

Read Korina's story
A closeup of youth Jake Newstadt


I started gambling when I was about 12. It started as a hobby, but began to consume my life. I'd often lose more than I could afford and I was always thinking about betting when I wasn't betting.

Read Jake's story

Shared Stories

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Gambling harm podcast: Inspiring stories of hope and recovery

There are many ways to seek professional and anonymous help for your own, or your loved one's problems with gambling.

If you need immediate help, please call Gambler's Help on 1800 858 858 or Gambler's Help Youthline on 1800 262 376 (from within Australia only). This service operates 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and is free and confidential.