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Lynda's story

Lynda Genser: My name is Lynda Genser and I'm a member of the Lived Experience Advisory Committee. I've been gambling probably all my life but to say that I started gambling where it was going out of control was in 1992, when pokies first came into Melbourne. The very first time, I put in five cents and won a hundred dollars. That's how it started.

It started out with once a fortnight and it very quickly became once a night. After I'd been gambling for about three years, my husband and I separated. He didn't just believe me because of my gambling but that was very much one of the reasons he left.

Well I started working at a charitable organisation and I was executive director there and eventually my salary wasn't enough. I appropriated money, misappropriated money from the organisation I was working with. I spoke to my son. I decided that it'd gone on long enough that I was going to have to tell the police and tell the organisation what I had done.

I was given a one-year suspended sentence with a one-year behaviour, good behaviour bond. And I did stop for a while then. Not for long though. Yeah, that's the hardest part. I kept gambling in spite of everything that had happened.

Gambling, especially on the pokies is like having a frontal lobotomy. You sit there and you listen to the music and it relaxes you and it makes you feel better. That doesn't mean that it's doing any better to you it is it? But it does make you feel like somebody or something cares and that's ridiculous because it's a machine and for me that was what I used as a coping mechanism. I kept gambling for quite a while until 2006.

My daughter and I decided we would be bringing up my youngest grandson and so she said if I wanted to have a part of his life, the only way I could do that was if I gave up gambling and so in July or August of 2006 I gave up gambling. Cold-turkey.

You can have a really good life after gambling is my message. When I finally stopped, it was almost like a weight had been taken off my shoulders. I could remember something my parents used to say to me, you know if at first you don't succeed try again. Well in my case, that's what happened and now twelve and a half years later, I'm a gambler, I always will be unfortunately, but I don't gamble anymore.

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