Boom! My eyes widened as the money grew and grew with free spins. I had no idea what was going on but a lady next to me told me I was a very lucky girl. I couldn’t believe it! I had won $220.00 and the money I had started with wasn’t even mine!
With my money in one hand and my phone in the other, I called all of my friends to tell them how lucky I was and that I was going to have a big night out. Little did I know, this so called ‘luck’ was to consume my life for the following two years and change me into a completely different person – alone, scared, deceitful and depressed.
"It was like a sudden relief if I ever got free spins, kind of like a weight off my shoulders."
"The pubs in South Auckland were my second home. I would rotate where I went each day so no one would know I was a gambling addict. I would literally cry myself to sleep. The lies, the deceit, the frustration – it was all too much."
The only person I told was Jim (not his real name), my boyfriend, who has been amazing. He didn’t beg me to stop, he didn’t threaten to leave and he just said I needed help. This was the start of a turning point for me, the time I finally reached out and got help and advice from the Problem Gambling Foundation.
"Sometimes I used to think ‘how can Tony think I won’t go on them after thinking and talking about them for a whole hour?
He must be crazy to think talking about them is lessening the urge!’"
Tony encouraged me to tell my friends and mum about my addictions. It was so hard. Telling my mum was the worst. I couldn’t even get the words out – but eventually I did and mum said she would help me get through it. To this day, only a few people know about the addiction – and I don’t think many people know the extent of it.
"In August this year, it will be five years since I have touched a pokie machine and I couldn’t be happier."