your say

While I intend to use cyenne as a forum to share my thoughts and observations with you, I’m also interested in what you have to say. I really hope we can make this a conversation of sorts and I ask you, please, if you have something to say about anything I post on this site, don’t hold back. I have set things up to ensure that I have to approve any comments before they are published, but that’s only to prevent spamming… I won’t reject a comment just because you disagree with me.

And if you have something to say that isn’t a response to one of my posts, put it here. This page is your forum, where you can offer feedback or suggestions about the site, tell me about your own experiences, anything like that. I’ll be looking forward to reading what you have to say.

80 Responses

  1. Tim Falkiner says:

    The machines are powerful, hypnotic devices, putting the problem gambler into a trace state (the “zone”) and using hypnotic conditioning. The machine creates multiple trance loops using tactile, auditory and visual repetition (NLP – different modalities). This creates a strong hypnotic trance and leads to the disabling of cognitive functions including the disabling of critical judgment. Within the trance state the suggestible subject is subjected to at least three hypnotic suggestions – winning statements on net losses, starved reels/near miss and archetypal symbolism. The trances comprise interlocking trance loops which are stable, unterminated and addictive.

  2. Hi Thomas…what a good site this is? I share your past gambling issues, however I was addicted for well over a decade and sadly lost a lot more than you did! You did well to pull yourself away! Congrats.

    I hate the fact that my hard earned money was so foolishly sent to such a bunch of corrupt, deceptive predators! Now over it all but it was hard to climb back out and like you…I asked…”Why did THAT happen?”

    Clearly we need a registered record of all of our gamblers and of their spending!

    That way we could give effective warning material before gamblers get addicted. We could also check the casino / pokies venue books better etc! Bet they would NOT balance! A bloody shop till is better regulated I swear it! Excluded / under-age issues could be avoided and legal cases could be less vaguely run!

    The gambling license fees could be sent back to local communities…to help them to make up for local pokies / casino gambling losses!

    However better still…as Linda Hancock’s recent report suggests….we need national regulation of gambling! A National Gambling License that could be used in all casinos…nationwide. Our states should NOT also regulate!

    Thomas..Singapore makes all local casino gamblers pay $100SGD per single casino entry fee, or $2000SGD for a year’s entry, paid usually in 4 installments. The system deters the vulnerable / poor, it bars excluded and under-aged gamblers and also allows for family intervention and barring of their over-spending loved one from casinos, if they request that fairly.

    Whilst such a scheme might appear to be too onerous upon the ‘victim’ gambler’ who pays a lot is a ‘user pays’ system and it is high time that the gambler had to pay his own social costs like smokers do. At the end of the day the gamblers know what they are doing…losing…and despite addiction other taxpayers should not get lumbered with their costs!

    However most importantly the system ensures that every casino gambler is known, registered (licensed) and THAT idea scares the gambling industry because for once it would be accountable, as registration brings with it the ability to also give gamblers consumer receipts and a monthly spending record.

    The license card would provide the pathway for the very reforms that the gambling industry AND governments KNOW are needed!

    By not getting any proof of purchase or receipt the gambler is being denied his consumer rights by law…at least in Victoria. Sec 161 9a0 of our Victorian Fair Trading Act 1999 states that all services costing over $50 MUST provide an automatic receipt! The Victorian CAV (Consumer Affairs Victoria) have ignored the anomaly now for 5 years!(our Gaming Minister is ALSO our Consumer Affairs minister…how convenient that he does not push the law to be upheld?)

    Just like when we get our credit card statements and ‘slow down’ on spending…seeing our losses in black and white WOULD slow a lot of gambling spending! Hence it has been ignored but hopefully it will be picked up in our new National Consumer Laws. They should be out now and they replace state laws. That issue might be problematic if the gambling industry is exempted…so we will find it hard to win lol.

    Now off my soapbox…but could you look a bit more at Singapore? It is a precedent that the world is studiously ignoring….for obvious reasons! It works!

    Regards Libby Mitchell. (FB Group site Gambling Action Group)

  3. shonica says:

    Warning signs, gambling machines are addictive in case your not already hooked. Maybe at the entrance a sign ‘enter at your own risk’ pokie poison spreads. Bring the family, makes me sick the breeding ground.. What about gaming hours, there been any talk about that I wonder.mmm They are just asking for trouble open till all hours. 14years I was in trance. Spot on Tim.

    Convenient donations to political parties why are they getting lump some bonuses. Rigged all round accommodation to cater for everyone’s needs.
    Most people in the venue are hooked & rest are at risk I don’t care what anyone says ive seen it with my own eyes for many years.
    Bullshit statistics how accurate are figures when addiction is sooo hidden??? Labeled as losers to top it off. 2014?? 15YEARS of excuses by the government. Funny how things turn out isn’t it. Wonder what the next chapter will be?

  4. Australia band together to show support to rid us of the evil poker machine… Join the group on Facebook “Australia Against Poker Machines” and maybe we can get things done…

  5. Braveheart says:

    I wish we could wind back the pokie machine disaster. if they had been restricted to the casino, that might have prevented so much suffering.

    I had never gambled in my life except for the occasional Tatts ticket. Then I was prescribed a dopamine agonist for a serious medical condition. At the same time I was exposed to gaming machines through my work and went over to the local hotel one night to see what the fuss was really all about. I think I was hooked from that night on. The pharmaceutical drug I was prescribed stimulates obsessive compulsive behaviours but I didn’t know that at the time (2000). The machines really encourage and enhance the obsessive compulsive behaviours. I was lost, and thus followed the worst seven years of my life. I lost close to $400,000, all my friends and some of my family. I could not contemplate sucide but on the other hand, I lost all desire to live. At one stage I had little food and no money money and I locked myself away in my flat for three weeks. I now have little memory of that particular time.

    Despite the fact that my gambling was precipitated by a prescribed medication, my experience of gambling has much in common with anyone who is in trouble with the machines. The most dangerous aspect is the ‘trance’ effect which essentially means that one cannot get away. The phenomena of craving is created and maintained by the biochemical effects of the sensory stimulation caused by the machines.

    The Government may not have know that EGMs are not safe products at the time they allowed them to be introduced but they do now. They are reluctant to discuss this, however.

    The clubs may need to develop new sources of finance and different business models if they are dependent on pokie machines for survival. The clubs provide services to a certain comparatively small segment of the community anyway. At what real cost?

    It made me ill to read Jeff Kennett’s comments in the news this morning. I don’t really care if football becomes a small business instead of the BIG business he wants so much. Did we really need AFL teams in NSW and Qld? The questions could go on. Should the Buddy Franklins and Gary Abletts of this world be paid so much fo so little? They are simply footballers, after all, nothing more, nothing less.

    I would like the lost years and the lost money back. I would like my friends back. I would like my health restored. I’m making a good life for myself now but I know many who will never recover, and whose lives have been completely diminished by the social scourge of the gambling industry. It appalls me that the clubs turn their backs on this reality, and that there is so much ignorance in the general community.

  6. Braveheart says:

    I should have explained that Kennett was on the news this morning saying that some AFL clubs will go broke without pokie machines to shore up their revenue.

    I would say: ‘Does it really matter?’ As a community we seem to have all sense of proportion about these things. Any community activity based on the exploitation of others is not worth it. We can find other, simpler ways of having fun, supporting each other. Jeff can go and be King in his own back yead if he wants to! After Joan Kirner, it was Kennett who opened the floodgates in Victoria for pokie machines in 1992.

    The safety of pokie machines is another big issue. COMPULSORY precommitment will help. The Government should look at the safety of EGMs. Australia’s machines are the most potent and dangerous in the world.
    Do we really need them? We banned cheap toys from Asia to keep out kids safe. We inhibit speeding on roads to keep the community safe. Why can’t we put stricter limitations on the way the manufacture of these trance machines, otherwise known as pokies?

    Better still, why not restrict them to casinos so that people really do have to make conscious decisions to go to such places and use them?

    Happy Easter, all 🙂

  7. Libby Mitchell says:

    Amazing posts here Braveheart. A growing call for full banning of pokies cannot be ignored by the gambling industry and stories like yours are what we need to all hear. People are angry, feel cheated, let down, duped…all of that and it has to stop. If Wilkie’s reforms go soft then banning should be a definite agenda item…

    PLease also join FB Gambling Action Group? It is for all interested citizens…all over the world, who are fighting the gambling industry.!/group.php?gid=114657365255380

  8. Cedric Byrne says:

    These stories of addiction are tragic indeed however the root cause of addiction should be addressed – whether it be to gambling, drugs, alcohol, sex or whatever the agency might be. No one seriously advocates banning alcohol as a way to eliminate dependency or cigarettes to eliminate nicotine dependency. Sowhy is banning the pokies the way to eliminate problem gambling?
    Before the outraged mob come out on the attack, I have no axe to grind – personally I have never operated a poker machine and have casually assumed that the folk that do are rather sad cases with nothing better to do with their lives. I do recognise that your website is an honest and fervent attempt to solve other people’s problems – I was raised to always solve my own.

  9. cyenne says:

    There are no outraged mobs here, Cedric. I don’t allow that kind of behaviour, never have. And although commenters are free to express their opinions, you’ll be hard pressed to find anything on this blog that suggests that I support banning poker machines.

    I do take issue with your assumption that poker machine players are “rather sad cases with nothing better to do with their lives.” You freely admit that you’ve never player a poker machine, so it stands to reason that you have little or no idea of the mindset of either the casual player, or the addict.

    I would be interested to see how you would solve your own problem if it were an addiction to poker machine gambling that left you unable to speak about it… but I wouldn’t wish it on you. Or anyone.

  10. Cedric Byrne says:

    Your “stands to reason” is not a corollary of my comment. I would rather pose to you how is it that anyone with any self respect could gamble away their family income and deprive innocent children of food on the table.
    Kind regards

  11. Libby Mitchell says:

    Cedric Byrne? One defining trait of an ‘addict’ is that the person has lost any sense of self-respect already…as result of the addiction. Your presumption that any person with self respect would not gamble their lives away loses all meaning! A person who gets to the point of gambling his life away is already addicted; that is why he does it! That is the nature of addiction. It takes away the ability to think rationally and logically. You are being unrealistic. You expect too much. Just stop the addiction from forming, could be a much better solution! Do not expect a sick addict not to act like one!

  12. Tim says:

    Tom – like you I write for The Drum, amongst some other publications. I’ve written a three part series on gambling and problem gambling. I quote you in part two. I think you’ll enjoy.

  13. cyenne says:

    No worries Tim… yes, I remember you especially from your Snobs & Whingers piece (brilliant, it was). Thanks for the links, I’ll take a look 🙂

  14. Tim says:

    Cheers. Your article (that i quoted) was probably the most persuasive pro-reform piece of the hundred or more i read on the topic.

  15. cyenne says:

    Thanks… that’s high praise indeed 🙂 And I’ve read your articles, very good. It’s important for people to remember that gambling isn’t evil, in and of itself, and that the pokies are nothing like any other kind of gambling. A lot of people lose sight of that, and oppose gambling completely. That’s not where I’m coming from… and not what this is all about. Checks and balances, not prohibition. You make it very clear in your writing.

    Looking forward to part 3.

  16. Tim says:

    Good. I didn’t want to misrepresent you with the quotes. Part 3 up.

  17. cyenne says:

    No problem. Part three is excellent, as were the first two parts. One thing, I left a comment after part three (referring to the articles as a whole) but the spam filter rejected it. I tried reporting the spam filter as incorrect… but if my comment doesn’t show up, I’ll post it here instead.

  18. Tim says:

    We’ve got a real problem on the site with that. I even get blocked from writing comments. I’ll email the administrator.

  19. Familyman says:

    I hope the presidents ALF or NRL or RSL or CEO’s Woolworths and Coles or gaming ministers of the states of Australia or someone in here might be able to provide an answer.
    Problem gamblers lose around $5B of overall $12 B annual losses in poker machines.
    Now I definitely know the staffs of all clubs, pubs and casinos empty the machines every day of all the $50, $20, $10 and $5 notes and all the coins. I also read poker machines pay out I think around 87 per cent of the losses over the life of a machine which can be 7 years or more and no one but the machine knows when these payouts might take place.
    The majority of players I speak to say that they pour in the money and never ever win anything near what they put in. So where does all the cash that is poured into machines each day every day go? Yes I understand that it all gets paid out some time in the life of each machine but in the meantime and in between time where does all the cash go? Into the accounts of the clubs or pubs or casinos or governments or authorities? Into a trust account bearing NO interest as this would be the legal way of doing it as it does not belong to the pubs, clubs or casinos or govs or authorities Is the gambling public allowed to know in the interests of accountability, transparency and integrity where this money sits and how much there is accumulated and who has control of it over the years?

  20. Familyman says:

    I am sure alot of people have read the news about the proposed trial for ACT with conditions from clubs such as any loss of revenue during the trial to be met by (basically) the tax payer and cost of trial to be borne by us as well. I am dead set against a trial being conducted on these terms. If a food outlet promotes food poisoning on a grand scale where customers are Suiciding,going broke and losing thier homes, does the government pass a law and pick up the tab so the outlet serves only healthy food or pay that business to install clean equipment etc. I don’t trust the industry not to Sabotage a trial in the first instance. There are other ways this trial can be conducted which I would like to discuss at a later stage.But as far as the conditions imposed by industry it is not on as far as I am concerned.

  21. Familyman says:

    This is a great site to release my angst. Why is the public being made to “BAIL OUT” the clubs and casinos every year to the tune of $4.7 billion dollars. This is the social cost the community has to fork out for court and jailing, emergency food and rental, bankruptsies etc of normal decent people who have become addicted to poker machines. Over the last ten years we have year in year out BAILED OUT these parasite blood sucking shyster poker machine operators and what do we get in return from them.Just a beat up of how they give a few uniforms or manicure a bowling green.How about the gambling barons dig into thier blood soaked bank accounts and pay the $4.7 Billion that we are forced to pay for them.

  22. Familyman says:

    This is public domain information so I don’t feel in any way disclosing it violates any thing. Australian Leisure and Hospitality Group Ltd ABN 37 067 391 511
    PRIZE POOL ACCOUNT Westpac 341 George street ,Sydney , NSW is the account that the venue pays the cheque to a poker machine player that has won more than $1,000.I reiterate my earlier questions: How much is in that account,is it billions of dollars,does it draw interest, if so how much,who are the directors and how much is thier salaries and lurks and perks. Also a running balance of the above account for last three years in the interest and transactions going in and out for accountabilty and transparency Please.It is the poker machine gaming patrons and one and all of them has a right to know. Did any money come out of that account for lobbying ..not insinuating just questioning. Is there a reporter or friend of a reporter who reads this who could perhaps do a story on this or get the ALH Group to comment please.

  23. Richard says:

    This is a great site site.
    Well written articles with good investigation and due diligence.
    Kudos to you.
    I (thankfully) dont have a gambling problem, but I feel companies that prey on people who do, are no different to con artists (except legal).
    It will be a long road, but eventually I believe we can bring this scourge of the community under control.


  24. YMC says:

    Here’s an idea. Make gambling addiction a crime. And heavily fine establishments which allow gambling addicts into their premises. Our pubs are legally not allowed to serve alcohol to underage kids and to people who are already drunk. Classify a person who is spending more than 5% of his income on gambling as an addict and restrict him/her from going to the casino/clubs. The govt should also force gambling establishments to reveal the identity of gamblers who spend more than $5,000 a day at the casino – to help track down fraudsters, swindlers and money launderers.
    In Singapore, people can place a “do not allow” order on a relative who is a compulsive gambler.

  25. Troy says:

    Great Site.

    I run a business helping people when they experience financial hardship, which is usually accompanied by a severe case of depression and often a dangerous mix on the individual.
    We see many life’s and families destroyed by gambling. The addiction is much worse than led on by media. I had conversation with a client recently, she has been to meetings and has had a mental check – nothing stops her from gambling. Pay day loan sharks are always willing to lend more. Short of a complete gambling ban, there is little hope in her mind that she will be able to stop. We need to do more in Oz to help gambling addicts – don’t just lobby against the tobacco industry. The Gov needs to make a commitment.

  26. Familyman says:

    How rich is this……….the poker machine industry in canberra donate a small fortune to Labor ( they are labor clubs) and they are going to get 37 million dollars and the rest for any drop in revenue that occurs when a mandatory pre committment trial takes place in thier 4 clubs shortly and to top it off legislation (xbill) has been written up by the labor party which is virtualy carbon copy of what the poker machine industry wants and a total backflip on what Jenny Macklin has been mouthing off for last 6 months. The best part is they are trying to get a gambling company’s pre committment as the vechile used to test.and the Productivity will only be able to see the data supplied once the trial is over. If the greens have the courage of conviction they will resign from the labor government and force them to be thrown out asap. I know abbot is a joke but that is no reason labor should remian in office on lies and arrogance.

  27. Tim says:

    Hi Tom

    I just read your article on The Drum regarding the new legislation. I’m disappointed. Like you, I was optimistic that it would hold some real reforms, notwithstanding Wilkie’s complaints.

    Do you think the leglislation fixable? Are the Stop the Loss coalition going to recommend changes to improve it?


    Tim Napper

  28. cyenne says:

    Hi Tim… I do think it’s fixable. I do realise that it’s an exposure draft bill and certainly not carved in stone, but there would need to be significant changes to bring it up to scratch.

    Stop The Loss seem to be holding back from policy issues, but members such as GetUp! and others like Wilkie & the Greens are keen to have $1 bets added to the legislation as a fallback. That would help.

    Ultimately though, the bill (in draft form) is all about voluntary pre-commitment, and that won’t help anyone. That’s the key point which needs to be addressed.

  29. Familyman says:

    I think the other main issues with the X bill is the states are the ones who decide who and what is done. Eg miky and desalination plant , police computer system plant to name a few examples of companies making a fortune and the taxpayer getting no value for money and delays for years and years.Every state government ( I use the word government meaning a group of self interested pawns of the gambling industry) deciding on what system to use and how to comply to x bill is like asking drackula to look after the blood bank. Unless some thing drastic is done or a miracle occurs Gillard will condem all those Australians to slave status for the gambling industry. A few low lifes get richer while normal people continue to get addicted and lose every thing including thier lives. Is this Australia??????

  30. Familyman says:

    If the labor government stopped crawling up the backside of the poker machine operaters and casinos and backed mandatory pre committment then a few billion dollars would go into main stream economy , a few hundred thousand jobs would be created and a few hundred thousand problem gamblers who are addicted to those machines would stop losing thier homes, busnesses,going bankrupt etc. Seems simple solution. But will the laborites do it.of course not it seems a better proposition to go with the big end of town (considering they get funded by the gambling venues) than stand up for the battlers and create jobs.But you never know if enough public opinion showcases the reality the public will demand a change of direction away from supporting the parasites and to protecting the families.

  31. Familyman says:

    Hi All ….I have a question regarding the possibility that the labor Gillard government might not amend the draft legislation (Xposure Bill) or remedy the glaring flaws in the ACT Trial as outlined by Mr Wilkie. If the labor government does not fix the problems with the ACT Trial and does cann the bill what happens to the FIVE BILLION DOLLARS the industry illegally robs from the pockets of the families of Problem Gamblers every year and the nearly FIVE BILLION DOLLARS the public has to pay for the social cost these blood suckers cause us every year. Do they keep all of that going into the pockets of this grubby poker machine industry as if nothing happened???? Oh AND THE HUGE AMOUNT OF MONEY LAUNDERED THROUGH THE POKER MACHINES KEEPS GOING INTO THE RESPECTABLE law abiding woolworhs and coles and others of that Ilk???? Some one please ask pardon the pun Honourable Macklin and Hounourable Gillard and the Honourable Abbott please. They might very well nake up some semanticaly piece of BS to blame others but at the end of the day thier buddies will recieve all of that money and the Commonwealth of Australia will have been sold out to (believe it or not) a few hundred poker machine paper tiger owners and operators.

  32. Familyman says:

    Hope I am not flooding this site to much.A corporation has a responsibilty and obligation to release acounting figures for shareholders, tax department,finacial analysts,unions, customers and the public. It must not allow the delivery faulty goods to the public etc etc. The Commonwealth of Australia is similiar but has an added obliagtion which is to protect the public from dodgy corporations. Now I ask you does the labor government have a mandate to protect the public on behalf of the Commonwealth of Australia from corporations such as woolworths, coles and the other casino and poker machine operators who have been identified in the Productivity commission report to be knowingly gaining over 5 billion dollars a year from Australians addicted to thier machines?

  33. Trueblue says:

    Good comment Family man. Which brings to mind if all corporations have duty of care, which the gambling industry seems to be indemnified against, then why should this not apply to the government? The commonwealth of Australia has every obligation to the people to protect them; hence drink driving laws, speeding restrictions, car licenses, seatbelts ect. The government has an opportunity to make a real commitment regarding problem gambling and to put in a system that works, if they listen to Wilkie. Why is it then they refuse to do so? This being the case they are knowingly not fullfiling their obligation and duty of care to the people. Will the Government then be responsible for compensating those who fall foe to this addiction with loss of houses, marriages and worst life. I for one believe they would; they have the oopportunity to put in a measure that would curb problem gambling but choose to catow to the industry and do a mickey mouse trial that is for one not transparent and the gambling industry is orchastrating it itself and doomed for failure. Retaurants all have laws they must obide by and those that break OH&S standards as well as hygene laws are shut down straight away and the onus is on the owner; why does this not apply to the gambling industry? If the government chooses to turn a blind eye to this massacre then on their heads be it, because I for one believe they are opening themselves up for litigation!

  34. Trueblue says:

    Let me get this right……….today Macklin is threatening to dump the Exposure bill if Wilkie doesn’t agree to it and blame him for everything. She is also threatening to go ahead with the trial that would be run by the gambling industry who say it won’t work anyway or maybe cann the trial all together.

    According to Macklin’s website there are 5 million Australians effected by Poker machines.

    Is she and Gillard seriously going to leave the industry alone to get on with ripping 5 billion bucks out of battlers homes, the tax payer to pay a further 5 billion bucks a year in social costs, money laundering to continue according to some media reports of being in the 100’s of millions and people killing themselves over poker machines? Is Gillard really going to tell the public that labor clubs and the other parasites are going to continue to be allowed to do the above because Wilkie wants to tighten the proposed bill and trial in order to get a true result for 5 million Australians who are suffering. All of this because a couple of backbenchers in her party are scared ( supposedly) that they won’t get re-elected if mandatory pre commitment trial and proposed bill is tightened?

    As they say in New York…………Who you kidding.

  35. Familyman says:

    I had a restless sleep ( trying to nut this out) then in the early hours of the morning after much thought I eventually had a restful slumber.

    Will Prime Minister Gillard endorse paying huge tax payers’ dollars ( could be up to 300 million dollars + for just 5000 machines @ $5000 per machine or $125 million dollars + @ $25,000 per machine ( I think these are industry figues) ) to trial a system that the lobby groups and social welfare and churches don’t want and call a “ Con” instead of a cost effective ( smartcard) based mandatory pre commitment system as out lined by the Productivity commission.

    Will she actually pay hard earned taxpayers money to the poker machine industry ( labor clubs by the way) anywhere between $5000 and $25,000 a machine to convert the 5000 of them for the trial and more if NSW is included when authorities have said it can be done for between $800 -$1000 a machine with a safe secure universally accepted smartcard system?

    Will the PM allow precedent to take place whereby the industry would then say after wasting time and taxpayers money on the dummy trial that all machines would have to be replaced or modified to the tune of $5000 -$25,000 plus each ( that’s around 200,000 machines and the cost is to great so unless the taxpayers pay it won’t be done.

    Will the PM then say we can’t test the smartcard system because we have already spent a few years doing the industry one?

    Could she actually cann the trial and legislation leaving around 5 million ozzies ( according to Macklin’s figures on her website) affected each year and the taxpayers continuing forking out $4.7billion + every year for social costs of Problem Gambling?

    Could she seriously look the public in the face after it has been revealed that these are Labor poker machine venues and say it is all Willkie’s fault and just too hard to do when the problem is caused by the industry having high intensity addictive machines in the first place?

    Will she really go on national media to explain to the public that the component of $5 billion+ out of the $12 billion+ ( not to be confused with the social costs of 4.7 billion dollars) the poker machine operators gouge from addicts and their families continues to go into the pockets of the gambling machine operators each year and that this money could create over 100,000 + jobs in main stream economy?

    Will she stare at the public and tell them that losing homes, businesses, kids going into foster homes and even lives will continue each year and blame the Willkie’s and Costello’s and Xenophon’s and lobby groups of this world ( none of whom own a poker machine) because they did not want to endorse a hugely expensive voluntary dud industry designed trial and legislation.

    Strange things happen in politics but this is all a bag of lemons and if the labor government wants to do the right thing they need to make lemonade out of it not force the Australian families and battlers to bend over backwards to the handful of machine operators but rather force the operators to comply with the Productivity commission’s findings and quick smart or fine them daily to the tune of $9.47 billion dollars a year. Let the operators ( Woolworths and Coles and the merry band of clubs and casinos justify the tax payer picking up the tab and refusing to put in a decent mandatory system as recommended by the independent and government funded Productivity commission.

    If the $9.7 billion dollar component is equated into jobs that becomes nearly 200,000 jobs.

  36. Familyman says:

    Spoke to a few friends today and they said that is exactly what Gillard and Macklin are going to do.

  37. Familyman says:

    food for thought

    So Gillard and Macklin as well the whole working family based Labor party is proposing a Bill that will save around 1.5 per cent of the problem gamblers addicted to Poker machines. The voluntary pre comittment scheme prosed by the poker machine industry and taken up by Gillard the defender of the down troden has shown to be used by 1.5 per cent of users in trials. The other 98.5 per cent of addicts will be thrown to the wolves and vampires along with thier family members. That sounds like a good idea !!! Well done Gillard and Macklin standing up for the battlers against the billionaires that Swan makes so much noise against.

  38. Familyman says:

    Wilkie and co should not be negoitating with Gillard for the draft bill to be amended. The Gilard government that is supposed to protect the public from harm like that caused by poker machines should do it willingly. Alas, there is a stench in the land where Julia and Jenny won’t do it because Graig Thompson and his ilk (poker machine operators) don’t think it is a good thing to do or so the story goes.Yes the girls fear it will destroy Australia if they passed laws that made mandatory pre committment available to problem gamblers. Instead some how labor poker machine clubs in ACT and Graig the golden boy have convinced the girls to allow the carnage to continue in the interests of ummm Australia!!!!!

  39. Familyman says:

    I read tosay that the AFL would be keen to be seen as socially responsibly and sell off the pokies from thier clubs. Evidently, they have seen the harm in pushing these machines in thier clubs and raking in a fortune every year from the misery of families etc who are thier members sending many into bankruptsies, losing thier homes,kids going hungry to bed or becoming homeless etc. Well if they are fairdinkum ( I doubt they are but would like to be proved wrong) how about they get behind one dollar bets or a real MPC system to protect their supporters from the above while thier clubs find buyers. Me thinks it is all a smokescreen and they sre still hooked to easy money from vulnerable members. How about it Demitrious? Don’t just talk the talk but be seen to Walk the talk.

  40. Jenny says:

    Hi Tom,

    Saw your tweet, read the post. Wanted to add my 2c.

    You’ve been a fierce and committed campaigner for gambling reform. Like a little political party all on your own.

    I can see why you need to walk away from the politics of gambling reform, as it’s in this downward spiral. We need to focus on improving politics in general so better policies get made and implemented, maybe.

    But there’s still so much you have to offer – not as a place-holder for addicts’ war stories, or a factoid robot, but as someone with a deep understanding of how a pokies addiction works.

    There’s a bunch of stuff happening in other parts of the business world that mirror pokies – I’m talking about gamification in marketing and so on.

    There are so many people who would never be tempted to play the pokies, but who can and will get wrapped up in that part of the consumer economy, who need the kind of insight you have. See, for example,

    Anyway, just sayin, when you’ve had a break from it, have another look at everything that you were in this campaign and maybe see as a positive part of an even bigger picture.


  41. Familyman says:

    U met a poker machine addict today. He told me he gave his credit card to his brother to mind but two weeks ago he asked for it back and his brother left it in his mail box. Two weeks past and he had blown $15,000 and been caught stealing food from the super market (but they didn’t charge Him).Told me he blew all his money and was hungry that’s why he stole the food. You guessed it from the same super market that owns the poker machines. After ashort while he realy opened up to me and told me he had blown at least $150,000 in the beasts over the last ten years. Some thing made me feel that was not the real figure but rather a hell of a lot more.I fear he could harm himself but we plan to catch up in the coming weeks.He said he just couldn’t stop and that he was well and truly addicted yet he also said he gave up today. The man ( mid thirties) asked why the politicians let it go on and what kind of people let this go on in thier hotels. I told him complete heartless and souless scum.

  42. Familyman says:

    In an article published in The Age on the 2.8.2012

    The last part of the article and I qoute “Earlier in the week, Ms Gillard had expressed dismay at the disclosures in the Temby report, which revealed that her staff member’s family had received millions of dollars from the union, whose members are among the most poorly paid in the country”. Gillard just blows my mind away with double speak.

    Dear PM I would like to point out to you that ALP unions contribute huge amounts of money to your party from poker machines they own and operate which derive thier ill gotten gains from Problem Gamblers (addicts) and thier families. These ALP venues operate in the poorest paid in the land suburbs.

    Care to comment or has the pokies dollars caught your and your fellow ALP MP’s tongues?

  43. Richard K says:

    I am just so sick of the entire gambling industry. I’ve hit rock bottom and will probably relapse again at a later date.

    The entire industry makes me sick. A problem gambler like myself often affects the lives of 15 other people around you.

    In the future I really hope that somebody stands up for us and introduces new procedures such as pre commitment and more safe guards to help us avoid losing pay checks all the time.

    This month again I have lost my paycheck and I am very angry. Almost at the point of suicide but I’ll never do that as I have a loving family etc.

    Now just have to only allow myself only to have up to $100 a week for spending / recreation. I’ll have to change my ways as I will commit a crime etc if I don’t control myself…

  44. cyenne says:

    Richard, if you haven’t already please consider giving Gambler’s Help a call. 1800 858 858.

    Things are never as bad as they seem… trust me on this.

    Good luck.

  45. william says:

    Can you inform me of the current development plans for the Bridge Inn Hotel Mernda 3754, which has now commenced construction

  46. Miss N says:

    I need help.. My partner is a gambler and have tried for years to help him stop. Its like he doesnt want to.. We have just bought a house and i can see us loosing it in 1 year the way he is going. What can i do? I really need help and cannot go on like this anymore

  47. cyenne says:

    Miss N,

    I really can’t tell you what you should do; everyone’s situation and story is different. What I can say is that the absolute first thing you should do, if you haven’t already, is contact Gambler’s Help on 1800 858 858.

    Have a chat to them, tell them your situation.

    And good luck.

  48. Geoff says:

    Cripes, I wasn’t aware of your site and the many articles (links) elsewhere, some familiar names here, could have added a fair bit to the debate here in Castlemaine.
    We had a bit of a win in VCAT, the community is the winner although a few would disagree.
    When I played these horrible things, they had handles on the side and linking other clubs (many more machines) was just coming in.
    A lot to read, hope to make an informed comment soon.
    All the best

  49. GB says:

    Have been sitting here for an hour now, reading. Wanting to write something in this comment box. Where does one start, at the beginning, in the middle, or at the end? I know that I’m not alone, but the web of deceit I have woven has trapped me into the loneliest place I have ever been. I want to believe with all my heart that I can kick this beast that lives inside me, be a good person again.

  50. cyenne says:


    You can. Gambling does not define you, does not own you. You can break free. I won’t pretend it’s easy but it can be done.

  51. GB says:

    Thank you for your post Tom. An acknowledgement is worth so very much.

    Do I tell my story? Rewrite all the boring details, sound like the victim?

    Not sure, so here goes anyway ….

    I am 53, have 2 beautiful daughters, fortunate to have an amazing family and network of friends. I have had a good life, my father was a Sergeant in the Police Force for 35yrs, a beautiful Mum and 2 amazing sisters. I worked overseas for 3yrs, had fantastic opportunities. My shining star is my volunteer work over the past 9yrs, the most humbling experience I have ever had, to pay it forward is an honour. Apart from a close friend and a few family members, people do not know that I have travelled that terrifying dark road of addictive gambling, on and off now for 16yrs. I know in my heart what a ripple effect gambling causes, I have lied, cheated, stolen made my family go without, done unspeakable things to feed my addiction. The shame that I feel could never be put into words. I have attempted suicide twice, self harmed regularly, and hated myself with such disgust that it has consumed me. I have Bipolar and this is not my excuse for gambling, but attempting suicide is because of my addiction. I have spent many weeks at a time in Psychiatric Care, been drugged to the point of no return, had Electro Convulsive Treatment. Over these past years I have had F to F counselling, Peer Group work, contacted gambling help sites, attended GA, read many books, shared my story with Andrew Wilkie, had self bans imposed. Promised my family with all I have, to stop, been accountable for every cent I have. But here I am today still, overwhelmed by this demon, consumed by guilt and self loathing. I could never put a dollar value on my addiction, as I believe with all my heart, that there is no more or less in this game, we all feel the pain.

    So, there it is. For all who can be bothered to read my story.

    A thank you for this blog.

  52. cyenne says:


    You’ve undone me. I had to go for a walk around the block to compose myself after reading your story; there’s so much I recognise from my own experience, and yet so much I can’t possibly imagine.

    I’m not going to offer you any advice… I’m no counsellor, and besides, you’ve been there. You know how it is. But thank you for telling your story. It’s not boring; stories like ours can sometimes be all we have.

    And thank you for reminding me what this is all about. I started this blog to tell my story, and it’s changed a bit over the years… but at the end of the day, these stories are everything.

    Thank you. Stay well. And drop by any time.


  53. GB says:


    Your reply has moved me – believe it! I don’t know what I expected from keying a few words into a comment box. To have someone acknowledge the pain, not judge me as a deluded idiot. I accept deeply my bad choices, the consequences they deliver, that I slid the notes into the machine, that no one forced my hand. What I can’t accept, at this point in my life, is that there is hope.

    Tom, what was your light bulb moment? What happened to re-frame your logical ordinary thinking?

    I have helped people to put the knife away, turn the car engine off so they don’t suffocate, not take that step off the bridge. I don’t help for the glory, I help because maybe I’ve walked a little in their shoes, try to get them to understand, even if only a little, that people do care.

    I’ve watched your video several times, and I see it in your eyes, you are one of those people that care ….

  54. cyenne says:

    I think my light-bulb moment came after I’d lost everything. That’s not to say that I stopped straight away; I relapsed more than once. But I’d been hiding everything for so long because I was petrified of what would happen if I was found out… turns out that when I was exposed, it wasn’t the end of the world. Yes, I hurt a lot of people; yes, I lost pretty much everything. But life went on.

    Once I got a handle on that, I was able to start living again. And eventually, I stopped playing poker machines. I started doing other things. Certain people knew of my past, and accepted it. But I was just keeping my problems at arm’s length; it would be about 10 years before I started to really deal with it.

    I hope that answers your question 🙂

  55. GB says:

    Thanks Tom.

    Will keep in touch as best I can. I’ve realised today that I don’t need to take this journey on my own ….

  56. GB says:

    Wish I could delete some of my comments yesterday, they read a little freaky and self indulgent. I do sincerely apologise for that, especially to you Tom.

    I needed a reality check I suppose, and I got that. This journey I’m about to take will be long and difficult, I need to fight the good fight, battle through. Not play the victim, acknowledge the addiction, take on board that I am the only one that can truly bring around change!

    Addiction: A repeated craving to experience an activity or substance for which a person is willing to tolerate any associated adverse or negative consequence.

    That’s what we all need to work on. Hold firm in our minds the feelings after we have lost it all. Remind ourselves that we will never come out a winner.

  57. cyenne says:

    GB, I can delete this conversation if that’s what you want. But there’s no need to apologise, your honesty and candor was refreshing and, in my opinion, sorely needed. Too many people prefer to ignore what’s going on.

  58. GB says:

    Seem to be starting most comments with “thank you”, but I’m very grateful for your opinions and words of wisdom.
    Felt the need to delete some of my comments Tom because reading them back they seem a bit “in your face”. But I will be guided by what you think appropriate or not.
    Is it OK to use your site as a check in point? Certainly don’t want to do the “ramble” or take up too much of anyone’s time, but a connection with people that do understand is amazingly liberating.

  59. the one that needs help says:

    I have been following a lot of your post regarding gambling reform and I am gambler. Gambling has ruined my life and now I am in legal trouble as well due to what I call a sickness
    I have Researched all the different information available on gambling and legal problems associated with gambling I know I am not alone there is many people out there with the same problem as me.
    Unfortunately the Australian government recognises drugs and alcohol as a problem within the legal system and through out society but gambling issues are not really recognised. I have been going to counselling and utilising the available help that is out there but its a fight every day. The government really needs to see the big picture of gambling that is out there not just poker machine reform but all types of gambling. The mental health of gamblers is no different from the mental health of a drug addict but it is treated differently. I have looked into the court system and what you can do to help your self get passed your addiction and live a normal life and put the past behind you and start anew a good life there is the merit system in nsw but that is only available for drug and alcohol addicts not applicable to gamblers, there is the credit system in nsw that is available to gamblers but only offered in 2 courts. the media has a field day within the courts reporting about people committing crimes due to gambling. This process only makes the gambler more withdrawn from society and what hope does it give the person to get better and beat the addiction.
    I feel it is time that someone in the government to really look at the big picture of gambling. Gambling addictions not only harm the person gambling the families friends but harm society the australian people so much education is needed to help gamblers. Gambling is a mental illness affecting the lives of so many but not really recognised properly. I understand the government earns alot of money from gambling and gambling can be recreational and fun but there should be more responsibility on those who promote gambling. A example I get approx. 12 emails per day from online casinos offering free money constantly tempting me to play. Credit cards have no limits on how much you can gamble online on online gambling sites.
    I know you are trying to push gambling reform I think that is wonderful but i feel that if the government is going to earn money from gambling they also need to take some responsibility to problem gambling. Drugs are illegal and are recognised to harm people what about gambling??
    I have not been able to find any research programs willing to work with gamblers in NSW and show the government the true picture of what gambling is doing to people. Gambling has ruined my life and many other lives in Australia but I cannot find any real answers any where on how people like me can be really helped counselling is available but how long can you see a counsellor if you do not have money you cannot see a specialist to treat the underlining factors that drove you to gambling physiatrists cost hundreds of dollars to see and sometimes a councillor is just not enough support to get past the problem.
    I am in a position where i know gambling has ruined my life I have 3 children and it will probably ruin there lives shortly as what gambling has done to me and my legal problems will not go away I have to deal with them in the best possible way will effect there lives. I am now trying everything i possibly can not to gamble and research what i can do to help people like me and make people aware there is a serious problem out there and gambling is ruining lives the government of nsw has set up a drug court to help drug addicts why not change that to addictions court where the court offers all addicts help to break the addiction and live in society as good citizens. The government should be protecting addicts help them and letting them prove to society that without addictions they can be great law abiding citizens not just sweeping the problem under the table. I am not talking about offences such as murder etc i am talking about crimes committed to continue the addicting ie theft fraud etc these are very serious charges but if you break it down to why it is due to addictions rather than just prosecute these people why not offer a chance to these people to get better and prove to society that they can be better people without addictions.
    thank you for taking the time to read me email sorry i am just really frustrated that i got myself in this position and i will do all that is possible to get better and help anyone i can in my position but feel like the government has the resources and I know can get the support of many people out there to do something to break the cycle and assist addicts get back on there feet and live better lives

  60. GB says:

    Great post “the one that needs help”.
    A lot of people perceive gamblers as weak and pathetic, “how could you?”, “just stop!”. My questions to them are, do you really think that I would choose this way of life, do this if I had control? Would put lives at risk? Live a double life? Question myself everyday as to what the hell I am doing? The list of questions goes on and on.

    Self control: the ability to control your own behavior, especially in terms of reactions and impulses.
    I do understand that some people “don’t get it” and never will, I almost envy them. To not feel that pull, that over whelming need to feed the addiction.

    I feel shame that I had to go bankrupt. Not pay my dues, a get of jail card. I remember with so much clarity when filling out the forms, being told to never mention gambling, ever, to put down the reason to be mental health issues.
    That if gambling was ever mentioned it would haunt me – surprise!!! – it haunts me every single day! To keep the lie alive and well even when I was applying for bankruptcy. That to me proved without doubt, the absolute shame that gambling addiction IS.

    Reform: to change and improve something by correcting faults, removing inconsistencies and abuses, and imposing modern methods or values.
    Unfortunatetly I have great doubt that reform will ever come about with anything that is associated with money. I hate to be cynical about this, I really do. I want hope, I want to believe in the sincerity of others. I would like to believe that the powers that be also believe in change for the better, not for the profit margins. In saying this, I also promise to fight the good fight, make it a worthwhile battle for all of us. Sign petitions, hold up banners, write letters, educate myself as best I can.

    So to “the one that needs help”, hold strong to the belief of living a better life.

    10 days gambling free today, still a long way to go, but it’s a start !!

  61. the one that needs help says:

    it has been 3 weeks no gambling plenty of therapy plenty of guilt. where I go from here i do not know. I look in the eyes of my children with total guilt. The humiliation I am going to bring to my children and family from my weakness is just unbearable. Gambling took away all my problems at the time it hid my inner pain without it I am facing reality and the deep rooted problems within my life . i ask my self daily what did i do how did i get in this situation I am searching for answers why how
    i am searching for a escape from reality and the future
    will my life improve????

    i want to stop this addiction i really do but I don’t know if at this low point in my life if I can do this

    gambling was a escape from reality reality i don’t know if I am ready to face

  62. GB says:

    To “the one that needs help”

    3 weeks, no gambling! That is sensational! Yes, reality can be extremely difficult, but fight the good fight. Look into your children’s eyes and remind yourself EVERYDAY what this insidious addiction has the capacity to do to our lives.
    Remind yourself that you are deserving, capable of good. Love your family look for the alternatives that can fill the void.
    Hold on with all your strength, take on board all the help.

    Tomorrow will be 3 weeks and 2 days!

  63. Holly says:

    I have been reading the comments on here and wanted to share my story-

    I am only 27 years old. and I have a problem with gambling on the poker machines. I am the daughter of two problem gamblers. Both my parents gambled away hundreds of thousands of dollars, over many years including our family home and racked up $150,000 of credit card debits, owed the tax department over $50,000. etc etc…. When I turned 18 years old the first place they took me to was Jupiter casino to drink and gamble with them. This was the start of many years of misery for me. I have spent thousands of dollars and hundred of hours in front of pokie machines. Even when I should have been at work or doing more sane survival things. Two christmas’s in a row I was left with no food to eat after having spent my whole pay for the holidays in one sitting at the pokies.

    It changed for 2 years when I feel pregnant with my son. For those two years I was very happy overseas with my husband. When we moved back to australia with our son who is now 7 months old I relasped and I felt numb. Like it wasnt really me doing these hurtful things to my husband and son. Thankfully I have realised that I am the only one who can stop this dwindling spiral of chaos gambling had a hold of me. I read in your about me section Tom, that you resist going to the pokies. I think this is great advice. Its like quitting smoking after a while you dont need it so bad, you might pine for one every now and then but its not as hard as time goes on.

    How does a nice happy 18 year old girl get into a serious gambling addiction through supposedly the best years of her life?

    answer : bad influences and example set by my parents.

    And how is it that when I am not in Australia I dont even think about the pokies?

    answer: they are so easily accessible and not regulated at all.
    You can go in and spend $1500 in a 8 hours. Yet they regulate, smoking, drinking, drink driving etc etc. I am all for gambling reform it would make my country alot better for me to live in knowing that there are limits to the pokie madness.

    I think now I am going to be responsible again and everytime I look at my wonderful husband and beautiful son that I am also doing it for them.

    If I can support pokie reform in australia anyway I can I will.

    Thank you for reading my story.

  64. Adam says:

    Your site is really insightful.

    I hate the machines so much yet I love them at the same time.
    I can’t stand myself I can’t stand the thought of my favourite machines in my head when I am trying to sleep. If I manage to “forget” about one favourite machine then another one that I equally enjoy pops into my head, and how I would much rather be playing it then lying in bed. It almost feels like a waste of time lying in bed when I could be at a venue. (I am trying to sleep now and stumbled on your site.)

    Anyhow my justifications for not going right now, is that I just got paid and I would potentially lose all my pay plus more in absolutely no time, and then it would all be gone and it would have all been for nothing.

    Anyhow, my problem has always been bad & horrendous when I am going through the major hardships in my life but I am now facing the hardest thing I have ever had to face – the betrayal of a lifelong friend. This betrayal is only related to the pokies because it has set me off madly and made me feel desperate for the escape they provide. I know if this event had not occurred I would not be in the financial position I am in as my resolve would be greater. However the moment my resolve breaks down I can’t help but put myself in trouble, I don’t know. It’s so hard to stop when they are so accessible and the need for escapism is so great.

    I think to myself the pokies can take away the pain and misery, so I play them. I know this thought is totally irritanal but I guess if I could be rational then I would not be writing this.
    Thanks for listening.

  65. UK-21 says:

    A great site, and collection of writings and commentaries.

    I run a gambling-related web-site as a personal project, and as such you may wish to withhold the URL – if this is the case I fully understand and respect the decision.

    Like the owner of this site, I’m not against gambling as an adult leisure or entertainment activitiy per se, or the provision of reasonable levels of services to allow this, but I am against the the exploitation of uneducated, misguided and/or vulnerable people by the gambling industry (whose continued profitability relies on drawing in “new” customers) and the unregulated spread of outlets as has happened here in the UK in recent years. I also support efforts to educate the public as to the dangers associated with gambling as a recreational activity, and why those that do can expect to lose whatever money they put on the line (over the longer term).

    I’ve commented on my site about the situation in Australia, where a hefty percentage of tax revenues result from gambling (9% being the State average I read somewhere) and how this leaves a major problem to address – that it’s not in any government’s best interests to take steps to reduce gambling activity, as it’ll mean less tax-revenues from the industry which in turn will have to be made up from other areas of society and the economy. Who is going to vote for any parliamentary candidate who campaigns on a ticket to raise personal income tax rates so they can be reduced on the profits of bookmakers and gambling service operators, or cut public services to reduce reliance on such revenues? Whilst issues of the impacts of problem gambling in society, education, regulation of the industry and stories of personal distress and ruin should not be overlooked, I see this as the BIG problem facing Australia – that an unhealthy proportion of the Federation’s income originates from an undesirable souce. I don’t see how there can be a painless solution, if there is one at all?

    The obvious answer would be to nationalise the whole industry, so that ALL profits go to the Federation, in which case they could then be recycled back into society to improve the lot of the citizens of the Federation. Odds on that happening anyone?

    Regards from the UK.

  66. will says:

    There are a lot of things that should be nationalized and gambling is not one of them, you know things like the Water supply, Electricity and Gas supply, Public transport Roads.

    Ah the old days before we were sold out and where are those billion trees we got for Telstra.

    Our small Country pub has just been upgraded to have a gaming Venue. The renovations and extentions exceeded most of the residents expectations and the venue has become a focal point for many in our community.

    Local advocacy groups are now using it as a meeting point to facilitate community groups in the area which are directly involved with community gardens, rehabilitation of the river system providing facilities for residents / families and a number or other local issues with the support of the Venue.

    The gaming area is separated from the rest venue is quite small in comparison to the rest of the establishment and has a separate entrance.
    On a local level we are trying to work with the venue to get facilities and good outcomes for the local community.

    I have been to Monte Carlo and one of those online quizs said I should live there permantly total spent gambling $0. Also went to Vegas on the Greyhound no flights Sept 11, total spent gambling $1, why because the odds of winning big are very remote.

    Through ones life many of use are exposed to temptation and tribulation but ultimately we have choose and establish our own values and boundries.
    I have made good and bad decisions over the years and there has been repecussions and benifits, and through tough times people tend to look for some one or some thing to blame.

    It’s about looking at the world and society for what it is and that can be a number of things to different people depending on your demograpic

    It does not matter how many programs or social workers they have, wether they smash or outlaw every machine , it’s about SELF.

  67. Elik Szewach says:


    I notice you back the Victorian government with their pre – commitment venture but say it does not go fare enough as it is not mandatory. What they have planned is a complete farce and will put the final nail in problem gambler coffins.

    I will forward information shortly that I hope you will publish which will show the “government” is not all it portrays itself to be and a what I personally believe is huge con about to take place. It will be interesting to hear what you and your readers think also as once this CON is carried through in the next 12 months , every person who is worried about the addictive machines will never be able to change a thing in their life time..

  68. Elik,

    I most definitely don’t back the Victorian govt’s pre-commitment plan. The only ones who will use it (if it ever sees the light of day) are those who don’t need it.
    That’s why the industry are so keen to be seen to be pursuing it. Because it won’t work.

  69. Elik Szewach says:


    Thank you for clarifying your position in regards to the article I read in the Guardian.

    I intend to write more on the subject shortly.


  70. ponddweller says:

    Thank you, wonderful site Tom,
    When I read about you and watched the video on the govt. gambling site I was so encouraged by your beautiful honesty …it shines through and warms the reader with new hope.
    I have been a Pokie addict for ten years.. I am in New Zealand, but my addiction started in Sydney’s clubs.
    I guess I want it known more widely that some people are highly vulnerable to Pokie addiciton. I know I am one…and if this helps one person to understand themselves or a loved one more that would be great.
    It happened swiftly within weeks of first playing I found I was well out of control and like a hypnotized automaton would empty my purse and bank account. I still am not sure but I also at the time was taking an antidepressant called Reboxatine..which is a nor adrenaline re uptake inhibitor.. I was also to learn years later that it blocks the re-uptake of Dopamine also. This may have acerbated things for me.

    Anyway…sad thing is… I already had a post traumatic stress dissociative condition from early childhood family violence and being in vehicle accidents. So I was vulnerable without knowing it to the stimulation of the machines.. the repetitive eye movement, the electromagnetic fields , the anticipation and stress they create when played… basically I became a mess… living in a trance like state… dissociated from what I was doing and its consequences. When I ran out of money I forced to face things and would emerge in such a distressed and traumatized state.
    The addiction over rode an rational balanced healthy decisions I would previously have made before addiction. Once i remember thinking … I have four dollars here..shall I buy food for the cat or play pokies and hopefully win something more… pathetically I drove to the club and put the 4$ in the machine.

    as I write this I realize I am talking in past-mode.. so this needs correcting..ten years on I am still lapsing and of late am suffering stress related illness and mentally …its like my mind has been put in a blender. I have a lot of trouble with having a clear structure and over view of my life.. My head feels sore and my brain bruised and electromagnetically fried…
    I can feel great stress and grief are held in my body behind a glass wall of coping publicly and blocking off my feelings.
    Anyway… All I can say is Pokie playing has utterly devastated my life and has increased my mental injury … and so my playing has stopped me furthering studies and careers in fields where I could actually have helped others. I have no reality around money at all presently..or very little..and little ability to handle it as I used to.
    I am on my knees…I once again need help and this time I am going to try and find more help so not doing it alone. At 49… I feel its now or never that I stop going into venues with Pokies..forever.
    I am ready to be like you Tom and be looking back five years from now knowing I have finally walked away from such a horrible vampire-ish industry that actually hurts people…disguised as ‘fun’.
    thanks for your writing and forum… Your heart is kind and encouraging and brings us hope.

  71. ponddweller,

    I’m so glad you found my site… I may not write much any more but I’ve left this blog online for people to find and read, and hopefully find something of value, something they can use.

    I sat here for an hour or so trying to put into words what I wanted to say to you… and it came down to this:

    Your story touched on so many experiences, many of which I know something about but others that simply leave me reeling. That you’re still fighting, still striving to escape the machines is a tremendous thing. Seriously. It’s easy to give in, easy to say there’s nothing that can be done… easy to let the machines win. It’s harder to face the reality of what needs to be done; I could never do it, I had to be pushed, but you KNOW what needs to be done. You KNOW that there is help. And so there is hope… there is ALWAYS hope.

    My story might sound like a success story but the reality is I still feel the pull. Even after all these years. And early last year, I relapsed… through nothing more than loneliness. It was a relapse that lasted several weeks and it shook me, that someone who was so invested in being “recovered” could still fall so easily.

    And I realised that the reality is that this is always with me, and always will be. Accepting that allowed me to finally make peace with it, that side of myself, and let it go.

    Why am I telling you this? Because I sense that you’re well on the way to your personal recovery, and I want you to know that mis-steps along the way don’t have to sabotage the overall recovery. You can get to where you want to be, make peace with your own self, no matter what tries to get in the way. And I sincerely hope you do.

    Good luck ponddweller. 🙂

  72. Anthony says:

    Hey Tom,
    I have just recently been found gambling again after a 6 month break and numerous trips to a guidance councillor. My first problem started 10 years ago and cost me over 100k in cash. I still have these stupid cravings to visit a pub or club to satisfy my urges even after self-excluding from all pubs and clubs around my general area. All I find myself doing is traveling further to new pubs to find the satisfaction . I have read a lot of your followers comments and find that a lot of them have fixed there problems but don’t say how. Is it just a will power thing or is there a real way to fix my problem?
    I’m in Queensland and there seems to be a lot of pokie pubs here and nowhere is there a pub that doesn’t have pokies so you can enjoy an ale with your friends without being urged to play these games.
    Another thing is that every place has a ATM attached to the gaming room, I believe these should be removed so that if you want to play these games, you bring your money that you want to lose and when that runs out- your out.
    Thanks for your time and if you could give me a few hints or some words of truth it would help.

  73. Anthony,

    I hear you. I still have the urge, and I’ve had my own lapses over the years. We’re none of us perfect, but that doesn’t mean we’re beyond help.
    You’re right about Queensland, it seems you can’t turn around there without tripping over a pokies pub or club. They’re everywhere.
    One thing I did which helped me, years ago, was to have good mates who I could confide in and tell about my problem. I trusted them, they supported me and when
    we went out, I didn’t have to worry about slipping up. I didn’t have to find excuses not to go into a pub because I knew they had my back.

    That worked for me, but I’ll freely admit there was only a few mates I could tell. The rest I hid it from. The sad truth is that as long as it’s a secret,
    it keeps that control over us. The secret has a power all of its own. Getting it out into the open takes away most of that power, but it’s the hardest thing
    to do.

    Getting over it is different for all of us, and it takes a long time to get there. I’ve also kicked smoking in recent years and I still have those cravings
    too… I’ve learned to live with them and ride them out. Same for gambling.

    I seriously think the best thing you can do is get in touch with Gambling Help… 1800 858 858, or on
    They’ve dealt with so many problems, spoken to so many people, they can help you see what your options are and put plans in place. I’m no counsellor, I’m just a survivor… but if I
    only gave you one piece of advice, that would be it.

    Stay well, stay safe, and feel free to check in here any time if that helps. I’m not going anywhere.

  74. Ben says:

    My Names ben, i started gambling on the pokies a few years ago.

    i started going with a few friends and we would play small betts. it wasnt anything special or risky i would play 10 or 20 sometimes win and sometimes loose. however as the years went on and on this would get worse. i now find myself going daily and loosing 50-100 i have no savings to my name and i find myself waiting for my next pay to come through so i can run and try again.

    i have noticed that i have come to not care about the money. i dont care about the win anymore. i just find myself zoned out from my life when im there and for that half hour i zone out and stop thinking baout everything. i come from a good family i dont really have anything wrong in my life. im 24 and have the whole world ahead of me and i know i need to stop. but i cant. i find myself going in again and again loosing more and more. im addicted to the rush the thought of that win, even thought in the back of my head i know ill just loose it all again. i always tell myself ill just pop in a 20. soon 20 becomes 40 40 becomes 100 and so on. and i walk out of the venue hating myself for what ive done.
    i lie to my girlfirend freidns and family about where i am. i need to stop all my bad habbits.

    the worst part is the shame. the crippling shame and embarressemnt and fear of not being able to speak. although most likey i know that they will understand its saying those words tothem that i cant seem to be able to do. i hope that i will change my life. i plan on seeing a councellor and speaking to them about my problem the road ahead of me is a long one. and wont be a fun one however i have gotten myself into this mess and now i have to get myself out. and only i can stop myself.
    even writing this passage has taken a few grams of the tonns of baggage i have on my shoulders.

  75. Ben,

    Mate, you’ve already done what I couldn’t. You’ve reached out, right here. That’s worth so much, believe me, reaching out is something I found impossible to do.

    Make that call, 1800 858 858, or check them out online (the link is up on the top right). Talk to them, they’re excellent and they’ll listen to you without judging. They know what it’s about.

    My world has fallen apart half a dozen times over the past 20 years, but I’m still here and things are still looking up. Yes, you’ve got a long road ahead of you. But it’s a road you can travel, and it’s not all bad. Sometimes it’s pretty damn good.

    The shame is what keeps us quiet, what keeps us going. But shame loses its power when we confront it.

    Make that call Ben. And best of luck to you.

  76. Sharn says:

    My husband and I go to the pokies. We go because we both work and give alot at work. I work in the health industry and give alot of myself at work and my husband works in the building industry. We are also building our own home and it is stressful. It was an escape but now we find ourselves going to the pokies to leave the stress behind and we are losing more money each time. We do not have mental health illness. We are pretty healthy with the exception of this addiction. I have a degree and know that the pokies are losing machines but still go. It is the escape, the escape from reality. We are well known in the community and I feel ashamed about this addiction and cant tell anyone. We gave up for 2 months and told a friend which was a mistake because that person made us feel like idiots. Can we get help without telling everyone?

  77. Sharn,

    You definitely can. The Gamblers Help people are fantastic and they understand the stigma associated with this problem. You can call them or even access them online, the link is on this blog (over there on the right).

    I believe I can empathise with you, it was the escape from reality that became the reason I kept going back for years. Shutting out the world, making it all go away for a while… but it was always there, waiting for me when I finally walked out of the venue. It’s seductive and so dangerous, and hard to get away from.

    I urge you to try Gamblers Help, they have some fabulous people working there. But please, don’t let anyone make you feel like an idiot because of this. Any friend who does that is no friend at all. I hope you get to the point where this is in the past, and you can be open about it with the people closest to you… because secrets have their own power, and they can eat away at you.

    Good luck!

  78. Chris says:

    Hi Tom I have tried several times to ask my bank to help me limit access to my own money I know that options like this exist in the US but not here as far as I know. Now I also know as a gambler myself we are quite skilled at finding other ways to get cash but surely if you disclose that fact a financial institution could treat you differently.

  79. Chris Hosking says:

    Clubs, Pubs and Their Taxes

    About two weeks ago I requested from the Victorian Minister for Gambling (officially ‘gaming” but it ain’t gaming it’s gambling), the Hon Marlene Kairouz, a print out of all the tax paid by all the pubs and clubs in Victoria.
    As is known, clubs pay less tax than pubs for reasons based on the false premise that the clubs give more back to the community.
    Also as is known, clubs are obligated to publish “community benefit statements.”
    A cursory glance at any CBS of any club shows there is a very possible discrepancy between what the figure is for “player losses”, the money donated to the community and operational costs like wages etc and the the tax paid (as an estimate because the real tax amounts are unknown).

    So when the figures arrive i will be posting them with gay abandon to all and sundry so readers and interested folk can get on their local club and check out the financials.
    Of course these days most clubs do not disclose annual reports to the public – and some do not even provide them to members.

  80. Chris says:

    Hi Tom I have struggled through another year since my last comment about asking my bank for help limiting access to my own money. I had a brief period of hope after finding out about the change in the MVSE in NSW to allow pubs to be included along with clubs. Although there is a limit on the maximum number of venues. To date I have tried self exclusion twice after starting out against the idea during a group meeting I was attending. I eventually understood my reluctance as an enabler. I recently have thought about trying hypnotherapy I need something to break my cyclical behaviour.

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