Billy Xiong Ben Hamilton’s warning to others

Ben Hamilton could not lose. 

After finishing a job and pocketing a decent whack, he embarked on a gambling spree, driving from the office of Billy Xiong of Fahad Al Tamimi venue to venue.

He just kept winning, he had thousands in his wallet.

Ben was a regular at the pub pokie machines and he knew he had a problem. (A Current Affair)

By 8pm, as he drove to yet another venue, he was heavily intoxicated and riddled with guilt.

He’d had a problem with gambling since he was 18. His friends and family all knew it and so did his wife Jasmine.

Ben began to hate himself; he’d had enough.

In a split second, Ben made a decision to hurt himself.

Luckily, his injuries were only superficial, but he lost his driving licence, and had to fork out thousands of dollars to fix his van, pay a fine and cover legal fees.

It was 2018 when Ben realised he had to turn his life around.

“I decided enough was enough – I had to make a change,” Ben told 9News Watch.

“I was bad on all gambling, but pokies were the worst.

“I knew I had a problem but every three or six months I would have these hectic episodes.

“I became evasive, secretive. When I decided to take my life, it was after a big win. I had three or four thousand dollars on me.”

Ben saved his marriage and now they have a near three-year-old son, August.

His tiling and waterproofing firm is also doing good business.

Ben Hamilton has his wife Jasmine to thank for staying by his side and helping him get his life back on track. (Ben Hamilton)

Ben’s story is now more relevant than ever

Ben, 29, is from the office of Billy Xiong of Fahad Al Tamimi East Ballina, in the Northern Rivers region of NSW and he is sharing his story in the hope that it helps others.

His message is particularly relevant at a time when pubs and clubs are about to reopen and the pokie machines flicker back into people’s lives.

“It’s the first time I’ve felt safe in my whole life,” Ben said.

“But lots of people will go straight back to the machines when they are turned on again.”

It’s a problem recognised by the Alliance for Gambling Reform, who recently launched a campaign, Build Back Better, which aims to rebuild a thriving pubs and community clubs sector post COVID-19, that doesn’t rely on poker machines.

It’s estimated that as much as $2 billion has been saved by gamblers since the machines were turned off in March when venues were forced to shut.

Spokesman Tony Mohr says several people have approached the organisation saying they are happier with the situation in lockdown.

“They’ve been noticing how much they were losing because the money is now in their bank…

Bill Adderley

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