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Elk's story

I started playing pokies in the early 1990s at the Launceston Casino. Right from the start, I kept chasing my losses and also got a real buzz out of believing that a big win was right around the corner.

By 1996, I was losing my entire pay on a Friday night and was borrowing money against my housing loan to fund my addiction. One night in August 1997, I lost $1800 and was so shocked that I told my mother the next morning. She didn't really grasp how serious pokies addiction can be, however she supported me in seeking help from GABBA (the former counselling service for addicts of gambling). I self-excluded from the Casino and went to GABBA group counselling sessions, which seemed to help. It was around this time in 1997 that pokies were introduced to Tasmanian pubs and clubs, and I soon started losing again on pokies. I self-excluded from pubs and clubs, however the power of the addiction was too much to bear – I breached the self-exclusion and lost more money. I moved to Hobart in 1999 and again frequented pokies pubs where I lost more increasingly, and at the same time continuously drew money from my housing loan to play pokies. Once again, I tried self-excluding from all Tasmanian gaming venues, however I was continually breaching it. In the dreadful last weeks of my addiction, I played pokies at the Hobart Casino and fed $100 notes into the machines as fast as I could.

In 2006, I confessed to my partner of my addiction and she was deeply shocked as she had no idea. I lied when I told her that I had stopped. In 2007, she fell pregnant and I was so engrossed that I even tried to encourage her to terminate as I was addicted, lied to her and could not think of anything else but playing pokies. I am so deeply ashamed of this period in my life and my behaviour then. She stuck by me and encouraged me to seek counselling which I did through a wonderful man at Anglicare.

After several sessions, I did not go back to pokies and now have a wonderful life. Thankfully our daughter was born and is almost 12 now. I am so blessed. I have never transferred to any other forms of addiction since reforming, and interesting research has backed this up as pokies addiction is so unique compared to other forms of addiction.