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Michael's story

I began gambling when I was about 13. My father took me to the races when I was even younger. I remember collecting tickets from the ground to see if there were any winning ones. He would always take me to the TAB. I didn't know any better, and soon after, I got to know the people there. I would get them to place my bets on my behalf. After a while, they started letting me place my own bets. I thought it was fun. There were a few guys that would say, “This place is not good for you, don't come here anymore.” But I would not listen to them.

I was there all the time. I was enjoying myself, studying the form guide to try and pick a winner. A few years later, I was losing pay cheque after pay cheque trying to pick a winner. I remember getting up early for work and working hard, receiving my pay on a Thursday, going straight to the TAB and blowing all my money. It wasn't a good feeling. I then had to borrow money off friends and family so I could get by. It went on for a while as I kept chasing my losses.

Sports betting was beginning to get popular so I tried that to see if I could win. I had a good win and thought, “This isn't that hard. If I can study the form and know my sports, I can win.” I was spending hours researching sport, trying to learn because I thought I could win. That’s all I thought about at work and home, it was the only thing I was interested in. But it was the same. I was losing thousands; betting larger amounts and chasing my losses. Over the years, I lost most of my yearly income, friendships, many jobs, and I was surrounded by other gamblers I called friends.

I ended up getting married and had a son. My gambling addiction was so bad that I started doing the same thing as my father did. I started taking my son with me to gamble, which was something I promised myself I would not do. Having constant financial problems at home and lying to my wife, my marriage was not heading down a good path.

I heard a story about a close friend’s father who had won a jackpot, kept playing and eventually lost his family and home. I said to myself, “Enough is enough. I surrender; I can't beat them.” I am now finding it difficult to get work and earn money.

Meanwhile my family and friends own one or more houses and are enjoying life, whereas I feel like I'm starting over again. Looking back, it makes me sick thinking how much money and jobs I have lost. I should have gotten help a lot earlier. I hid this other side of me to most people. Gambling is an addiction and a disease, it is not something to be laughed at. I strongly encourage people to get help before gambling consumes and destroys their life. You cannot get your financial losses back, the lost time you’ve spent trying to win, and most importantly, lost friendships.