I love the casino.
As soon as one opened in my city, I became a loyal patron. Going gambling was my hobby, and I loved every minute of it. I relished that rush of adrenaline each time I pressed the spin button or pulled the mechanical arm.
My partner and I gambled almost every weekend, and sometimes during the week, too. I had a full time job, a house and a family, but gambling was my passion. Other activities didn’t exist for me anymore; in fact, I couldn’t remember how I had spent my spare time before the casino – except for playing bingo at the local hall.
I loved bingo, too. There were times when I pawned my things just to play. I sold my stereo, some jewelry, and I tried to pawn the TV, but my daughter wouldn’t let me. I tell you, at the time I was mad at that kid for stopping me, but looking back I see how ridiculous it all was. I’m ashamed to admit that I was so desperate to play bingo that I would actually sell or pawn my possessions. I didn’t do it often – only a handful of times – but that was definitely enough to feel the guilt and shame.
I knew I was in trouble, financially speaking, and I was running out of options. Writing another bad cheque to get some spending money for my favourite place was not going to help this time. My only income was from my job, and that was spent before it could even be deposited. With utilities being cut off one by one, broken appliances needing repair, and no groceries in the house, I was completely broke. I was even facing the refinancing of my home just to cover old debts. Yet there I was, penniless for the time being, but willing to wander around the casino until midnight – the magic hour for all gamblers. That’s when the next day’s spending limits begin and payday money is transferred.
Walking around the casino floor, listening to the sounds and feeling the warm glow from the brightly coloured machines, my desperation started to give way to anxiety, and then to sadness. I didn’t want to continue the way I had been living for the past 15 years. I knew I couldn’t afford gambling, yet it was all I knew. How could I give up my stress relief, my mental escape and my friend?