An Australian Woman Lost $350K to Poker Over 12 Years

Kate Seselja, an Australian woman and mother of six children, struggled with gambling addiction for twelve years. She was reluctant to seek help at first and when she finally did, she didn’t receive any helpful feedback.

Luckily, gambling research and treatment have since evolved. However, this wasn’t the case for years. Kate shared the story of her struggle with Mamamia.

Kate Struggled for Years

Kate first got into gambling when she was 18 years old. She went to a local club with her boyfriend and tried her luck at one of the poker machines. To Kate’s surprise, she got lucky and won a significant sum. At the time, she didn’t know that this one victory would spiral into severe gambling addiction.

The woman then discovered how easy it is to play. She was surrounded by gambling offerings wherever she went. And played, she did.

Kate quickly became addicted to gambling. In her interview with Mamamia, the woman recalled how she would bet small sums at first but would then be tempted to bet more hoping to win more. Unfortunately, her salary wasn’t enough to cover her increasingly-high gambling expenses which caused her to borrow money from friends and family.

Kate wasn’t open about her addiction. Instead, she would lie to her loved ones and tell them that she needs money to dine out or go to the movies.

At the time, gambling addiction wasn’t well-researched. Because of this, when Kate called a hotline, she didn’t receive any helpful advice.

Kate’s Addiction Resurfaced After Her Marriage

When Kate met her husband, her addiction subsided. She moved from Sydney to Canberra and changed her habits. However, this wouldn’t last forever. Years later, she was pregnant with her second child and went out with other mothers. The women visited a recreational club where Kate was once again exposed to gambling. Her addiction resurfaced once again.

Kate admitted to losing $30,000 (AUD) within a month. Even worse, this money came from the family’s savings for a house. She felt like her mind was “once again hijacked.” She kept on playing while banks kept on providing her with credits to fuel her addiction. Kate shared that the two tricks companies use to bait people are to either disguise losses as wins or to use near misses to trip players into playing more.

In 2008 Kate once again sought help. This time, she went for a professional counselor. Sadly, they weren’t able to put a stop to her harmful gambling behavior and she kept playing for years. By early 2012, Kate had lost more than half a million Australian dollars (about USD 350,000) to poker machines.

Then, depression kicked in. Kate nearly took her life but in the end, gave up on her suicidal thoughts because she was pregnant at the time. Her husband eventually learned of his wife’s addiction and did everything he could to help.

Kate Recovered and Is Now Helping Others

Eventually, Kate found a new counselor who was better and more caring. He advised her to seek a financial counselor and helped her overcome her harmful gambling tendencies.

Once Kate overcame her addiction, she vowed to help other people who are fighting the same demons. She became a coach for The Hope Project, a charity that helps addicts deal with their harmful habits. Kate hopes to help as many people as possible recover.

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