I wish I could say how well I am doing in my quest to stop gambling but I made it to day 8 of abstinence and fell off the wagon again.
I admitted it to my brother earlier and told him it’s getting hard to think of what to say in these particular entries. It’s just more of the same tired old promises to myself that I will stop. All that changes is the level of my shame. As I get more ashamed of being so weak it gets harder to talk about what I have done. It has taken me a few days to summon the nerve to post this.
My savings has now fallen to just a little bit more than I am going to owe the tax man this year so now I don’t really have any savings left. If I gamble again I will be using bill money. I already have now that I think about it. Some of the money I lost was supposed to be for car registration in a few months time. Some of it was for the car to be serviced when it is due next and so on.
I told my brother how much I wish the gambling counsellor would call me with an appointment. He said to call them again but they told me nothing could be done until after their team meeting on Friday. I was going to be allocated a counsellor at that meeting and the counsellor will call me to let me know when they can fit me in. I realised they may not think I am a serious enough case to even allocate me a counsellor if they have more new cases than they can handle. It is a free service and this state has a lot of problem gamblers.
The questions they asked when I called last week make me wonder if they will think I am a high priority.
They wanted to know how deeply in debt I was. I’m not in debt at all. I still have a bit of cash in the bank! I was deeply in debt last time but I sold my home and paid it all out. Then I stopped gambling altogether for months. That’s the only reason I am not in debt now.
They wanted to know how much damage I had done to my relationships but I have done none so far. She prompted me – had I borrowed from family or friends, had I taken money, sold possessions, told lies, broken promises and so on. I have done none of that – yet.
She asked if I was in any legal trouble. Had I stolen to finance the habit, had I broken any laws because of gambling. Not so far.
Then she wanted to know if the habit was doing any harm to my employment. Was I gambling instead of going to work – things like that. Once again I said no.
She asked about my betting – how much do I bet on each press of the button, how much do I usually lose in a session, how often do I do it, what’s the most I have lost in one session. I said I don’t play all the lines and the most I have lost is 700 but that was only once – usually I lose between 50 dollars and 350 in one day.
I’ve been thinking about those questions and the conversation I had with the lady on the gambling help line. Both of them said I was asking for help at a good time and they both said my problem can, and will, get worse as gambling takes over more and more of my life, relationships and finances.
They said most people wait until they have massive debts and their whole life is falling apart before they ask for help and are ready to even try and quit. Most people, they said, are not ready to admit they even need to stop until they get in more trouble than I am in. They also said it takes a long time before people reach a point where they are even willing to admit they really cannot control it.
I guess that is where my education, training and experience is an advantage. I am well aware how powerful and harmful gambling is. I have heard clients talk about what it has done to them. I remember their stories and tremble in fear! I know what gambling can do and it terrifies me so I began fighting the habit as soon as I realised I was losing control over it.
Early in the saga I drew lines for my gambling habits that I have, successfully for the most part, resisted crossing so far.
One of my limits was the amount I was prepared to bet. I started out by betting one credit and only one line but fairly quickly moved to betting five lines each time although still only one credit per line.
From there I went to betting more lines on the one and two cent machines and then, on my favourite five cent machine, I upped the ante to ten lines because I started to believe I had to play ten lines to get the jackpots.
Up until now the most I have regularly bet per push of the button is 70 cents on a certain 2 cent machine. I pay 50 cents per push on my favourite 5 cent machine and 25 cents on all other 5 cent machines.
That’s only half to one quarter of what most of the other people I see playing are paying. Most people play all the lines. On the five cent machines that amounts to one dollar each push of the button. I have seen people bet double or more credits so some people are paying up to five dollars per press of the button!
How do they get to that point and is there a chance I will end up doing the same?!
The past couple of times I went gambling have shown me I might!
Just lately it feels like the owners of the machines have recalibrated them to stop them paying out on the ten lines I play. The jackpots always seem to come up on the lines I am not playing now. I am starting to feel the only way to get the wins is to play more lines.
My maximum limit has always been 50 cents per push – half the available basic bet on a 5 cent machine but then I made an exception for one of the two cent machines that required extra money to get the extra features. On that machine I would pay 70 cents a push but that was as high as I would go. I only made the exception because you can’t win the jackpot on it if you are not playing the extra features I don’t think. Apart from that machine my maximum bet was 50 cents for my favourite machine and 25 cents for all the others.
Suddenly the venues are full of new two cent machines that are just like that other two cent machine. You have to play all the lines to get the main features, they have their own jackpots to tempt me, and they are just ten cents over my maximum at 60 cents.
They seem to be phasing out machines with twenty lines and bringing in ones with so many lines you have to play a dollar to play them all even on a one cent machine! I hate those machines and never play them.
The gambling industry is an INDUSTRY. Like all businesses they are not happy with current profits – they want next years profits to be even bigger. Are they, by any chance, targeting people like me?
When all is said and done those machines ARE computers! Is the information they are recording telling their owners they are getting all they are ever going to get from the people who already play all the lines and place the maximum bet?
Are they scheming to get future profit increases by targeting people, like me, who consistently refuse to play all the lines or pay more than the minimum bet? How come, all of a sudden, there are so many machines offering jackpots for just 10 cents more than my maximum?
If it is a strategy designed to shift my resolve it is working. There are fewer and fewer of the other machines, ones with no tempting jackpots, ones I can play just 25 cents on. They are being replaced with more and more of these 60 cent and multi-line machines.
I am getting more and more used to playing 60 cents and, the past few times I have gone gambling, I have been tending to play 50 cents on machines I always used to pay 25 cents to play.
Slowly but surely I am crossing the lines I drew for myself in the beginning. The machine I always play 50 cents on is not giving up its jackpots the way it used to any more. I am seriously considering doubling my bet to play all the lines so I don’t miss out on the jackpots the way I do now.
Is the industry altering the machines to get maximum money out of players like me so their profit margins will continue to rise or is this just what happens to every player in the end?
It certainly FEELS like the industry has been making changes designed to lure me over my self imposed limits but, according to those counsellors, all gamblers end up crossing the line and betting more and more.
I guess it doesn’t matter because, either way, I will be in double the trouble if I start paying double the amount to play that I am already paying!
I want to say that I must stop, that I will stop, that this is a lapse and so on but I have said those things before and I am too ashamed and embarrassed to say them here yet again.
I am thinking them, however, I will continue to fight this.
It doesn’t matter how many times I fall off the wagon. It doesn’t matter how many times I fail to win a battle against temptation. This is not a battle – it is a war and I will not lose the war until I stop fighting these battles.
I will not stop fighting until I win the war and give up gambling for good.
The advantage I have over other problem gamblers is I have realised my problem is serious BEFORE reaching the point of betting all the lines and placing maximum bets so I am fortunate. I have a chance to beat this before it takes me down to places like prison, unemployment, bankruptcy and so on.
A lot of people go to those places and don’t realise how serious their problem is until they get there!
They have an excuse. They didn’t KNOW where they were headed until they got there but I don’t have that excuse. I know where this will take me and I am determined not to go there! I will fight this thing every single step of the way. I will not give up until I win.
Today makes three days since I last gambled. I can win this. I know I can. It’s not a question of “if” I can win but when!