Mary Jane (MJ) is a married mother of two. Her husband is the bread-winner and she is the home-maker. Every fortnight her husband dutifully gives her the allowance for house-keeping, while he administers the payment of bills and the savings account.

Each morning, MJ would take her children to school and pick them up around three in the afternoon. One day after dropping off her children at school, MJ was free and decided to visit the local pokies, considering it an innocent past-time.

She began with $20, and lost them. The next day she tried again and won. For the next week or so, that was the pattern – win one day, lose another. Without realising it, MJ was hooked.

Soon she started losing, and the more she lost the more she wagered. This meant dipping into the house-keeping money. The losses kept piling and so, MJ had no alternative but to dip into the family’s savings account. She had been trapped by the supposedly innocent past-time and the illusion that she was going to be a big winner someday. So very strong was her obsessive-compulsive behaviour. She was trapped.

One day her husband was browsing through the monthly bank account and found that a series of withdrawals had been made without his knowledge or approval. So he checked with MJ. She initially dismissed them as withdrawals for some extraordinary expenses. She was lying – the clearest and saddest consequence of an addiction.

The following month, when confronted by her husband, MJ had no alternative but to make a clean breast of her wasteful addiction. She tearfully confessed that she was a victim of the pokies and had been persisting only because she hoped to become rich.

This angered her husband, who said to her in no uncertain terms that she needed help or else the marriage would be ended as the bond of trust had been irreparably broken. MJ agreed to consult with and seek the assistance of Gambling Anonymous.

Months later, MJ found herself able to resist the temptation and to adjust to a normal life of selfless commitment to her devoted husband and loving family. She has candidly shared her story so that others may not fall a victim to what can be considered an innocent past-time, but in reality is an insidious trap.

As you read and reflect on the story of MJ:

What are the salient points that strike you as being pertinent?
• What are your own opinions on Gambling?
• Do you have any experiences to share (without divulging any names)?

(Experiences with Gambling – UnitingCare Wesley Inc. 2004)