Poker machines first appeared in Australian pubs in 1992. At first, everyone saw them as harmless mechanical toys– videogames. Nobody was prepared for the effect the ‘pokies’ would have on the lives of so many. Instead of sitting around tables talking at the pub, people were now hanging out next to the machines. They were no longer interacting with each other.
One woman who shared her story confesses that it only took five or six weeks before she began spending every evening at the pub. It all started when she won some money. She had no idea one would win money with the machine and so she figured that playing could become her new job.
At first, it seemed like the people playing the machines were like a friendly community. But it soon becomes clear that in order for one person to win, quite a few others have to lose.
A few years later, there were stories of people losing everything because of the poker machines. Nobody ever called it an addiction although the machines were purposefully built to mesmerize.
This woman’s experience is not isolated; many have found themselves trapped in similar situations and have gone on to destroy their lives and alienate their loved ones. Knowing the damage they can cause should these machines even be legal?