This month of October, it is always fun to tell scary campfire stories about ghosts, ghouls, vampires, haunted houses, supernatural occurrences, and anything similar. Well, casinos do not really tend to be haunted much less have a vampire running them or anything. Nonetheless, scary things do happen. We have heard some truly scary anecdotes from many people and have read some really scary ones, too. But there is one story in particular that can really scare the pants off of anyone.
Imagine losing nearly $1 million dollars in a matter of three weeks? There are few things in reality scarier than that. Problem gambling is a serious issue left in the shadows of society, but it can take a serious hold of someone just like any other addiction; these people display symptoms of tolerance, withdrawal, and difficulty controlling urges like a drug addict would.
The Downward Spiral
Paul Fung began gambling at the very fresh and young age of 8 years. It all began very innocently. Little Paul would bet 10 or 20 cents on children’s games and other games such as Chinese card games and Mahjong with family members and friends. No one saw any harm in this. At the age of 14 he was betting on horses. He would ask anyone who was of age to gamble legally to place bets for him. Once he reached 16, he got a fake ID and could waltz on in to any TAB and place the bets himself. He would go every chance he got and spend his weekends studying the form guide and perfecting his “system.”
Though at the time he wouldn’t admit it, the betting was affecting his school work; his grades began to slip, and his world began to revolve around gambling.
By the time he turned 18, he got absorbed in more varieties of gambling counting casino games. At this point his parents began to voice their concerns on the subject, but they continued to give him money.
“It was an adrenaline rush when you won,” confessed Fung in an article for news.com.au, “it was such a huge thrill. I just wanted to gamble. It didn’t matter what it was, as long as I could put money down and get some back. But when you lose, you justify that bad feeling only lasted a short period of time. You look for the next win, which you convinced yourself will override that losing feeling.” The problem was that the losses, or low points, got progressively deeper, and the wins, or high points, didn’t get better.
He eventually got a job; he took on a jockey apprenticeship and could fund his vice a little on his own. Gambling devoured his life over the course of the following 10 years. He confessed he would skip work, showering, or even meals just to gamble. The real trouble commenced when his brother put his mortgage under Paul’s name. In one fell swoop he had access to ridiculous amounts of money. Before that, the most he’d ever lost was $15,000 in one night. After the mortgage, he went from bets of a few hundred dollars at a time to betting tens of thousands at a time. In three weeks he had lost nearly a million dollars from the mortgage.
Breaking the news to his family left them distraught; not only had he lost all that money, but he had also deceived his family. His brother lost the house, and Paul’s relationship with his family, especially his brother was in shambles.
Coming Back to Life
Six months after the debacle, Fung was at a friend’s house talking about the situation. The friend’s father overheard and offered to take him to a Gamblers Anonymous meeting. That is what saved his life, according to Fung.
Now Paul Fung volunteers with a telephone service that provides support to problem gamblers. He tells them about his experiences and helps them overcome their addiction. “…It’s a lot easier to talk to someone who understands and has been through it than a doctor or a family member,” he told news.com.au.
Thus ends the horrifying tale of Paul Fung’s gambling addiction. Luckily, it finished with a happy ending. There are many, many problem gamblers, unfortunately, that can never fully recover. So, remember, gambling can be lots of fun, but gamble responsibly.