“Until then, I never thought I had a gambling problem. But, the truth is, I was lying, hiding things and, by the end, spending $5,000 a week on baccarat…”
“When you’re in the casino, you feel special. Everyone knows you and greets you. I’d tell myself ‘I’m Platinum’. At home, you don’t get that kind of attention.”
Tala’s gambling experiences began with her extended Filipino family.
“My husband and I would go out with the whole family two or three times a year, just for fun. We’d go to a concert, go out to dinner and do a little gambling. I played roulette. It was a good time.”
Things soon changed.
“I started having problems with my husband. He was always busy at work,” she says, adding that he didn’t have time to go out with her. “He would give me money instead so I’d just go to the casino on my own.”
She played slots for seven years, going more and more often. “I lost $4,000 in one night. I thought ‘this is it, I’m done’ and excluded myself from the casino.
“Until then, I never thought I had a gambling problem. But, the truth is, I was lying, hiding things and, by the end, spending $5,000 a week on baccarat. With every loss I became more desparate to win my money back because my husband had no idea how much money I was losing.”
When she lost, she was angry, frustrated and couldn’t sleep, but it didn’t stop her.
“I spent a lot of money in those years, probably $100,000. Now I’ve spent everything and the only thing I’m left with is debt.”
Tala and her husband are in counselling but it’s taking hard work to regain his trust.
“Recently my husband went to buy a car and couldn’t because his credit rating was no good. He found out there is $24,000 in debt on a credit card he’d asked me to close years before. He said that in his whole life he’d never been turned down for credit. He said I destroyed his good name.”
Before her problem gambling, Tala admits she didn’t have a spending plan.
She worked, had a household allowance from her husband and credit cards. When she started gambling, she played with the household money instead of paying the bills, used the credit cards and eventually stopped going to work. “I called in sick to work from the casino. Sometimes, I couldn’t tear myself away to pick up my daughter from school, even if it was winter and she had to walk a long way home.
“I wasted a lot of money but I also wasted a lot of time I would have had with my children.”
Because of her husband’s assets, Tala can’t declare bankruptcy. Instead, she has a consolidation loan she’s hopes to pay off over three years and is in problem gambling counselling as well as marriage counselling.
“I’m going day by day. I used to gamble for 48 hours straight without sleeping or eating. Now, I watch television in the evening and feel a lot less frustrated because I’m not losing money constantly. My husband and I are working hard to save our marriage. I think we can do it.”
Multilingual Problem Gambling Service offers free and confidential information and telephone counselling in Tagalog and other languages. Call 1.888.689.0988 or visit www.ProblemGambling.ca.