I have one friend, let’s call him Jack, who was on a downward spiral a few years ago. At first glance, nothing seemed out of the ordinary. He was a hard-working guy who, here and there, would visit a casino to try his luck on slots. No one thought much of it. In fact, his friends, myself included, all very much looked forward to those moments in which we enjoyed a quick spin or two.
However, unlike Jack, we knew when to stop gambling. We didn’t know to what extent his love of betting would go so we used to invite him to a pub and encourage him to play on the machine. In fact, I remember one episode in which we were in our favourite local pub and the beers were not cutting it for me. Therefore, I suggested playing on pokie machines. And that’s what we did. But we promised each other that we would only wager $20 and that we would immediately stop playing once we lost them.
At first, we had some beginner’s luck and were able to match a few symbols. But after some time, we were losing our money. I said to him that we should soon stop, and he seemed to agree with me. However, Jack wouldn’t or rather couldn’t stop. It got to the point where I had to remove him from the slot.
Then, I asked him directly whether he had any problems. It only took him one round of beer to confess that he was a pokie addict. He feared disappointing his family and friends and didn’t know what to do.
After a long and tiring conversation, we agreed that he would tell this to his immediate family and start making progress.
I’m happy to say that, following a lot of therapy and support, Jack was able to overcome his addiction and see pokie machines for what they were all along — a means of getting your fill of entertainment. I’m sure that there are a lot of Jacks out there. Thus, I’ll mention some things that helped my Jack stop playing pokies.
A lot of people opt for self-exclusion. This is a valuable option, which basically allows you to approach a casino, be it online or land-based, and tell them that you have come to a conclusion that you need to stop betting. This option is also available in Australia.
If you see that you’re spending your rent money on pokies, you have a right to be self-excluded. The casino will keep its end of the agreement, and it won’t allow you to gamble there. In fact, if they catch you on the casino floor, they can kick you out for trespassing. Now, this might sound harsh, however, they are doing it for your own good.
Nonetheless, if you relapse, some casinos will help you get back on track. Also, in case you are spending too much time at an online casino, then they will close your account and erase all of your details from their system.
Furthermore, sometimes players decide to self-exclude themselves only for a brief period of time. This allows them to take a step back and learn from their mistakes. And the most important thing a player needs to understand is that gambling is there to amuse you, not provide income.
This option is effective for many problem gamblers. However, there are some sceptics.
Namely, they believe that casinos might use this to promote themselves and their ethics instead of actually assisting those with a gambling problem. While some say that players shouldn’t expect much from casinos and should make this their responsibility.
Nevertheless, voluntary exclusion is a welcoming addition to the gambling community. Specifically, it lets you be the master of your own destiny and take the necessary steps to prevent your gambling addiction.
Write in a Gambling Diary
This can be of help while you are trying to stop playing on poker machines gradually. Let’s say that you go to visit your favourite casino and wager a substantial amount of money. After winning a few rounds, you are over the moon. But your worst fear occurs — you start losing more and more money. After some time, your balance is $0, and you leave the premises.
You should buy a notebook on your way home and make it your official gambling diary. And write whatever you want in it. How good it was to keep landing wins; how worthless you felt when the screen showed $0 and you took your wallet only to find it empty.
In addition, you can write down all your expenses in it so that, once you read it, you see how much you keep spending just because you continue to play. Once you stop, the diary can be useful and show you just how far your problem gambling went.
Turn to Your Nearest and Dearest
You shouldn’t neglect the importance of having family and friends nearby. I know that you might be ashamed to look your loved ones in the eye and tell them that you think you might have a problem. But you’ll always find the willpower you need once you get this off your shoulders. Don’t underestimate your family. Sure, maybe a few tears will be shed, but in the end, you’ll have a valuable companion who’ll be there to lend a helping hand. It was through the support of his family and friends that Jack found his way out.
Have a Problem? Own It!
We all know that saying — the first step to recovery is admitting that you have a gambling problem. Although it sounds cliché, there’s no way around it. Namely, you can’t expect anything to work if you turn a blind eye to the issue.
Hence, turn this issue into a valuable life lesson and own it. You can seek professional help and surround yourself with people who are going through a similar situation. This support system is crucial to recovery. You can all share your stories and encourage each other. Knowing that other people are facing the same problem can prompt you to find a way out and realise that the world is not black and white.
Also, you shouldn’t hide your gambling addiction. I’m not saying that you should go around and tell everyone about it, but don’t try to minimise the effect it has on your life. And in this day and age, people won’t judge you. That period is way behind us. Accepting your flaws and living with them is commendable and will earn you respect from your peers.
Overall, in order to stop playing pokies, you need to make the first step yourself. This way, you’ll recover self-esteem and establish trust in yourself. So keeping a diary, telling your family, or getting help from complete strangers — these are some of the ways in which you can say no to pokie machines and yes to addiction-free future.
To conclude, this road won’t be easy, but certain things can strengthen your resolve. Specifically, seeing the friendly faces of your close ones, acknowledging your problem, and working towards resolving it. And remember — you’re not alone. With time, your gambling addiction will decrease, and you’ll only be left with memories written in your diary.