This story was originally put together by the Chinese Peer Support Program at EACH in Victoria and has been republished with full permission.
Gambling started at a very early age for me, you could almost go back as saying it started when I was a 6 or 7 years old, trying to win the best marbles of the kids at school.
As a young teen, 12 years old I started playing cards with my cousins for money on a regular basis, as this was quite a tradition in Chinese households, though it did start getting alarming when we playing every spare bit of time we got, on trains waiting for buses, at home, anywhere and everywhere, as long as we had a deck of cards. It was best explained as “playing” not gambling, so it never felt as though it was that much of an issue.
Then into my later teens, 16 years of age I started to take a keen interest in horse racing, a friend took me along to watch the Melbourne Cup, and it became an annual event. I started off by having a bet on just the Melbourne Cup every year, then in coming years, it became I was betting on every race on that race card, and then after it was races in Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane, Adelaide and Perth, it had gotten obsessive.
I started to buy form guides, and do the form for the Saturday races every Friday; it became second nature to me. I had a fake keypass, obtained from a friend so I could bet when I was asked for an ID. I was off to the races you could say! This was a weekly occurrence, betting on a Saturday, and school during the week that was my weekly planner. The adrenaline of the win was all I was after.
Once I did hit the legal age of 18, gambling became even more frequent, I was able to get into the casino, so now there was more product to gamble on, and it became an even bigger obsession. From gambling once a week on a Saturday, it became almost a daily occurrence, if it wasn’t gambling at the TAB, it was the casino. This obsession continued for a long time, forcing me to run away from places I lived, moved interstate and then overseas.
Thinking that the obsession couldn’t get any worse, well it did, I found more forms of gambling, card games, mah-jong, casino’s, sports betting, horse racing, online poker, I was gambling on almost anything.
Again running away and returning home, I found myself in a situation where I had access to a very large amount of money, low and behold that money went in a twinkling of an eye. It had basically left me with nothing, money, family, and friends had I felt deserted me. Though the obsession never went away, I still got my hands on money and still, all I wanted to do was gamble, money for anything was spent on gambling. The obsession had gotten worse, not better.
You could call it fate; you could call it right place at the right time. I stumbled across a person that introduced me to gamblers anonymous, I thought I didn’t have much left to lose, why not give it a go. Well, what an absolute gift that was, it stopped me from gambling for a period of time, it was like a miracle!
As time passed and I started to gather a period of abstinence, I thought I would delve more into getting help from other areas of therapy, so I seek out a gambling counsellor, a financial counsellor so that I could get my life back on track. It felt so simple in the aftermath, but it did take a process, though the outcome has been very fruitful.
I still continue to this day to seek these resources as I still believe that I am a work in progress, though it has opened up a lot of doors in my life. Which leads me to being involved in the Chinese peer connection group, which was introduced to me. I grabbed the chance with both hands, as I believe I can be a beneficiary to the team.
The reason I was so keen to take on this role is that I have taken so much from many others, doing this I believe I can slowly give back a little, with my knowledge and understanding from my gambling. It is a challenge and exciting one at that, now it’s time to try helping and guiding others who are going through this tough addictive obsession. Let’s hope we can make a difference in other people life.
If you are from a culturally or linguistically diverse background and want to access a local service like EACH - check out the services available in your state or take a look at the options we have for non-english speakers.
Chinese Peer Connection Program could not exist without the invaluable and tireless work of their Volunteers. If you have similar experience and are in Victoria, they would welcome you to become a volunteer on their program. For more detail, please contact them.