My story starts simple. Like many, I was a single working mum who paid bills, did food shopping, kept a house running for three kids. I would buy scratchies and lottery tickets, always hoping to win. But gambling was not a major focus. I had a job I loved and filled my weeks. I felt productive and important. Life was good.
About a year ago, I move to another state. Now my children were grown up, and I lived with my boyfriend of 20 years. I was no longer the one paying bills and earning a paycheck. My days went from managing a large business and all aspects of it to laundry, cooking and cleaning bedrooms. Don’t get me wrong, as a single mum I did all this but I worked too. Now housework was all I had. I was so bored.
At first I tried filling my time with walking to the local supermarket or the local outlet. I tried cleaning and organising each room in the house. I tried binge watching Netflix. Anything to fill my time.
My little paycheck from a part-time at home job was used to make small purchases or fillers around the house.
A few months ago I found online gambling. Hard rock casino online.
Well suddenly my world opened up. I was no longer alone all day. I could play slots. I could chat with dealers. I could win money.
It didn’t take long. Soon my little paychecks were being spent online. Every other Friday I would not clean or cook or shop, I would gamble until the money was gone. February brought tax returns. I sent money to my kid's account, did food shopping like I should, but the balance (all of it) went to online gambling: Over $1000. Well then came state return. That too was spent on online gambling (all of it). Then the stimulus checks in March. That too I spent, $1200. 'Stay in and be safe' became 'stay in and gamble' for me.
With being locked in the house, no one was asking about money. No one was shopping. The kids weren’t asking for cash. I could spend all this money online and no one was the wiser.
Next unemployment. Five weeks of back pay and no one knew I had it. No one asked. Soon I found myself sleeping on the couch, a feet from my computer. Everyone thought it was the virus and shutdown that bothered me. I just let them think that. What it really was the money I was spending online as they all slept upstairs. 20 to 30 deposits in one sitting. $10, $20, soon $100 at a time. Again and again. Deposit and lose, deposit and lose.
Soon the money was all gone. Two nights of gambling and I spent everything.
Since January I have spent $7,000 online. All on one site. My bank never questioned. The site never questioned.
And I was able to play it all away while never leaving the house.
What the hell have I done???
More than 300 deposits made from my debit card to the same site since January 2020.
Where do I go now? What does the future hold? Why am I so addicted? What am I trying to avoid and why can’t I stop?
Yesterday, yes - yesterday was my first day of not gambling. To be honest, it has everything to do with my account sitting at $0.
But I did a lot of reaching out. I tried to find help. I tried to learn what I could.
I cancelled my account with Hardrock Casino. I made myself a post-it that now sits on my computer screen. “Be strong, be positive, you shall overcome...”
Yesterday was the first day I picked up my paints. Today I will take a walk. I have not been out in over a month.
I need to learn how to fill my days and nights without gambling. I will attempt my first Gamblers Anonymous chat on Friday.
I will lean on those that have been through this.
I have a few days before money will be in my account again. Monday. I’m scared to death come Monday. I don’t want to gamble any more.
If any one has suggestions let me know.
Thanks for listening.