Pokie machines look innocuous enough, but Australians are beginning to realise that these video gambling machines can lead to all sorts of problems. Take the case of Sharon Hollamby, a resident of Gawler, for instance. Her addiction to pokie machines took her down a path that led her to commit armed robbery and lose her marriage and two children. Very tragic!
Interestingly, Hollamby’s long addiction to gambling started out innocently enough. She was out having a drink with a friend when she gave a nearby slot machine a try because she was feeling bored. She won $400 and was so thrilled that she kept on playing the game. Eventually, she gambled so much that she lost $200,000 as well as her home, in addition to her family and friends. What’s more is that, her addiction also took a toll on her self respect!
Sharon Hollamby’s life hit rock bottom before she was able to realise that she was in the grip of an addiction to pokie machines. As a matter of fact, she says that she used to feel hypnotised by the machines and would wake up every morning hearing their music. She was simply unable to break away from their lure no matter how many important things she had to let go of, one after the other.
Quiet evidently, Hollamby, is by no means the only person whose life has been ruined by an addiction to gambling. These machines are easily available in places where alcohol is served, and together the combination is almost impossible to resist if one is already susceptible to addiction. In Hollamby’s case, she got addicted to pokies at a time when she was at a low point in her life, having a lot of free time on her hands because a disability prevented her from working or leading a normal life at home. The formerly busy mother-of-two had all the time in the world to gamble and she sunk deep into her addiction without offering it any resistance at all in the face of growing disapproval from her family.
It is no wonder that pokie machines have been termed as electronic morphine in Australia. There are 200,000 of these machines all across the country, with a majority of them located in poorer communities. Stories abound of people who have ruined their lives because they felt compelled to spend their last dollar gambling, even borrowing or stealing money just so that they could feed their addiction.
As far as Sharon Hollamby is concerned, she has managed to get her life in order by beating her addiction with the assistance of a psychologist. She also founded a group to battle this demon, starting Communities Against Pokies, along with another associate in 2012 since she is well aware of the fact that timely interventions could have helped arrest the slide she was on. She is now associated with another support group G-link, which offers pokies addicts help to take control of their lives. She wonders why nothing is being done to regulate these machines, given that Australians collectively lose $12 billion to them every year!