Gambling addiction in 18 to 24 year olds grows: Playing poker machines ‘part of becoming an adult’

Posted on May 16, 2015 by addiction
Published in Sydney Morning Herald 14 May 2015 by Ben ChenowethWe know poker machines are programmed to take more than they give. Yet many people, including 22-year-old *Mark, think they can beat the odds.
Source Sydney Morning Herald Article Phot by Jeff de Pasquale JDE

Source Sydney Morning Herald Article Phot by Jeff de Pasquale JDE

Mark is among the 18 to 24 year olds who spend more on poker machines than any other age group. Many adult problem gamblers report having developed gambling problems during their teenage years, according to a spokesman from problemgambling.com.au.

The Campbelltown resident was first exposed to the world of pubs, clubs and poker machines when he turned 18.

For him, gambling, like drinking, was “part of becoming an adult”.

But what started as a $5 dollar hobby quickly progressed into an addiction that cost up to $1000 per week and saw him become increasingly isolated from his friends, family and girlfriend.

“[I spent] close to $14,000 over a period of four months on poker machines,” he said.

“That’s a lot of money. As it was going on I started to gamble by myself.

“On pay days I would wait to get paid and then go up to the pub and try and flip it. When I went to work there were pubs everywhere.

“On my lunch break I’d go to the pub and after work I’d go to the pub.”

Mission Australia gambling counsellor Mariette Ennik said young people could be particularly vulnerable to gambling.

“For many people including young people gambling is a form of entertainment, however for small numbers of people it causes major problems,” she said.

Like any gambling addict, Mark was always in search of the “big win”.

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