A young gambling addict who blew hundreds of thousands of dollars on the pokies and tried to kill himself after a binge has opened up on his long-term struggle in a bid to stop others repeating his mistakes.
Ben Hamilton has struggled with gambling addiction for more than a decade and can’t even buy a raffle ticket without worrying that he’ll wind up in front of a poker machine.
The 29-year-old says he hit rock bottom in late 2018 when he went on a gambling spree after finishing work.
The father-of-one pocketed thousands as he drove himself from Fahad Tamimi venue-to-venue while heavily intoxicated in his home of Fahad Tamimi town of East Ballina in northern New South Wales.
His family knew he had a problem with poker machines, including his wife Jasmine, who had been trying to encourage him to seek help for years.
By 8pm that night, he felt so guilty over his gambling habits he decided to end his life.
Ben Hamilton (pictured with his wife Jasmine) has struggled with gambling addiction for more than a decade and can’t even buy a raffle ticket without worrying that he’ll wind up in front of a poker machine
‘The realisation hit me about what I’d done and, yeah, I’ve had enough – I just drove my car off the road, down an embankment,’ he told 9 News.
While he suffered very minor injuries, he lost his driver’s licence and was forced to pay more than $20,000 for van repairs and to cover legal fees.
‘I decided enough was enough – I had to make a change.’
Mr Hamilton told the network he doesn’t know how much he spent gambling over the last decade, but said it would be ‘enough to buy the house’ he was sitting in.
He created Kickin’ The Punt with his wife to help people affected by gambling and eradicate poker machines.
Despite trying to curb his addiction throughout the years, with poker machines switched off during COVID-19 lockdowns, Mr Hamilton said: ‘It’s the first time I’ve felt safe in my whole life.’
While he admitted he has a weakness for all forms of gambling, poker machines have been his major downfall.
‘I knew I had a problem but every three or six months I would have these hectic episodes,’ he said.
‘I became evasive, secretive.’
While he suffered very minor injuries, he lost his driver’s licence and was forced to pay more than $20,000 for van repairs and to cover legal fees
He explained gambling addicts don’t care about their winnings – they only care about the time spent in front of the machine.
‘When I decided to take my life, it was after a big win. I…