“It was the highest priority, before even the general things of eating, sleeping, taking a shower,” he told SBS News.
Paul Fung says gambling nearly cost him his life. Credit: Supplied/Paul Fung
After losing seven figures – money lent to him by his brother – and gambling away around $20,000 of worker’s compensation, the only option he saw was to take his own life.
“The thoughts were constant – what use am I? I’ve lost my family and I don’t have friends. What am I living for? Those are the extremes you go to when your gambling gets to that level,” Paul said.
Paul Fung was introduced to gambling as a child, when he watched his parents play mahjong. Source: Getty / Allister Chiong
Paul is not alone in suffering large losses from gambling. The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare said that in Australia about $25 billion was lost on legal forms of gambling in 2018-19.
“You’re always meant to put on a brave face and pretend everything’s great. Because it’s not just my own shame, it’s the family name. The darkness and the disgrace are shared – your whole family gets isolated from the community,” he said.
Where’s the help?
“Asian people often don’t understand this Western style of counselling, because in our culture, gambling is illegal and so speaking out could send you to jail,” she told SBS News.
The problem with ‘problem gambling’
“We hear the terrible slogan, gamble responsibly, and that implies that if your life falls apart, and you get an addiction, or you’ve lost money, then you just haven’t been responsible. You’ve failed. And that’s what we need to change,” she said.
Advocates say there needs to be greater recognition of gambling as a stressor in suicides. Source: Getty / Minko Chernev
Calls for policy reform
It follows a slew of investigations this year that have found multiple casinos – including Perth’s Crown and Sydney’s Star – are unfit to hold gambling licences, in part due to their failure to minimise gambling-related harm.