Some of my fondest memories as a child was accompanying my mum and dad to the horse and greyhound races.
"Which number is your favourite, Ambs?"
"What colour silks do you like the best?"
"What horse do you think will win?
All conversations I remember having with both of my parents. We never talked about the losses, only the wins.
"We got a trifecta! We had a roughy in that race so the payout should be pretty good!" A bet that saw us take home $100, meanwhile no mention of the hundreds that had been "donated".
We always got scratchies and lotto tickets. Running around trying to a find a pen to write the numbers down on a Saturday night draw almost became an Olympic sport in our household.
My first real taste of winning was on Saintly in the 1996 Melbourne Cup. Mum had let me take the day off school. She went to local races and we had agreed before she left in the morning on who I would like her to place bets on in the "race that stops the nation". I can remember the excitement and adrenaline I felt as Saintly crossed the line first, I felt the most amazing high, I was 13 years old.
I spent my 18th birthday at Crown Casino. I got carded whilst sitting at the poker machines with my mum. As soon as they learnt it was my birthday they gave me some "free money" to spend on the machines or tables, whatever I wanted. Geez this place knows how to look after people I thought. I cannot believe how naive I was. Mum was just as excited as me.
As I got older I found myself heading up to the casino during my lunch breaks. I was betting on horse races overseas. I was selecting multi bets that were impossible to obtain. I know they are 15-1 to win, but if all of the outsiders get up I could win over $1000. Online betting made it worse. I could gamble on anything, at any time, any where in the world.
Its the thrill of the potential win that keeps drawing you in, not the actual win itself. That's what kept me going back, and that's what keeps gnawing at me every now and then when I see another add for sports betting, or I pass a casino, or the Melbourne Cup rolls around. I hate that it still has this hold over me, but I remember how good it felt when that adrenaline rushed through my body. Some days are harder than others.
-I feel compelled to write about my struggles with gambling because I feel like even with all the coverage gambling gets, it's still not really considered a "mainstream" addiction. Gambling is everywhere, and I mean EVERYWHERE! And yet it is mostly still recognized as a "pastime". I want people to start having discussions with their kids about this and how dangerous it can become.