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Isabelle's story

My parents are pensioners. My father was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease seven years ago, but is doing amazingly well. My parents are retired and living independently, however they are still paying off their mortgage and have no super to live off, so I help them out financially as much as I can.

Ever since Crown Casino opened, they have been drawn to the place, going for a punt on the pokies together with a good meal; it was a nice outing for them. For a few years, I noticed that they were getting numerous additional perks: free hotel rooms, free meals, free parking and more nights out in the city at the Casino. They reassured me that it was their main social activity and that I had no right to question what they did in their spare time.

A year ago, I went shopping with them and found out that my mum had no funds to pay for her groceries at the supermarket, which I then paid. After confronting her about this, I found out the awful truth: five maxed out credit cards, tens of thousands of dollars in gambling debts to the casino, and ongoing gambling "to win it back big". At the same time, my elderly dad had medical issues and was hospitalised, my mum's car had broken down and there were other problems. So in short, I had to use the money I'd been saving up to buy my first property to bail them out on the condition that they were to immediately stop gambling. They promised to do so.

Several months later, I learnt that the casino was still sending messages to their phones; inviting them to attend events, enticing them with lavish meals and a lifestyle they had become addicted to.

I was devastated and angry and didn't know what else to do other than to contact the casino, which did result in my parents getting banned.

So there you are. My pensioner parents are finally casino-free but at a cost to themselves, our relationship and my own future (I am back to trying to save up for my own place again).

The marketing practices of gambling organisations are unscrupulous. They don't care about people, but just want a quick buck. The sad thing is that my dad's friend still goes there – he has significant cognitive issues but is addicted to the environment and is spending his entire pension in that place.