PHILLIP Fresta knows the desperation and despair of losing your last few cents to the one-armed bandit.
During the mid 1990s, the Italian-Australian from Goodwood struggled with an addiction to poker machines.
He has now beaten that addiction and has put his experiences into a novel, to shine a light on the issue of pokies from an addict's perspective and hopefully help other people in a similar situation.
With the Federal Government's gambling reforms generating levels of hysteria sufficient for independent MP Andrew Wilkie to have Nazi slurs thrown against him last week, Mr Fresta feels it is important not to lose sight of the devastation pokies can cause.
“You can find yourself hooked in one night,” he told the Chronicle.
“A little hit of adrenaline with a bit of a win and then you find yourself back there night after night chasing the easy money.
“Before long you're one of the ‘stayers' – there at the end of every night, losing more and more, telling yourself you can win it all back.”
Mr Fresta calls his book a work of “faction”. It is inspired by his own experiences and stories he heard from other pokie addicts.
He believes there is a distinction between people who are addicted to pokies and people who are addicted to gambling in general.
“I was never interested in any other form of gambling,” he said.
“It was only the poker machines, and that was the same for many people I spoke to.”
He thinks the proposed reforms cannot help but be a good thing, as any limitation to poker machines would help to break the pattern addicts can fall into.
Mr Fresta now lives in Bundaberg and works in the sugar industry.
His book, Poker Machine Warrior, can be bought online as an e-book at www.pokermachinewarrior.com.au and he hopes to have it published within the year.
PHILLIP’S TOP 10 TIPS TO PREVENT GAMBLING ADDICTION
1. SET A GAMBLING BUDGET
2. DO NOT KEEP IT A SECRET
3. TALK TO YOUR DOCTOR
5. CONFIDE TO YOUR RELIGIOUS LEADER
6. GROUP THERAPY
7. PHONE A FRIEND
8. DON’T TAKE YOUR GUNS (BANK CARDS) TO TOWN
9. REPLACE THE ADDICTION
10. DON’T BE FRANK (READ MORE IN PHILLIP’S BOOK)
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