Ken’s Story

When Ken looked back on how he got in touch with gambling in his teenage, he was only gambling on cards with a small amount of money. He perceived it as entertainment only. Later, he had more and more friends betting on horseraces, and he always heard about his friends’ winning experiences. He recalled that there were one or two celebrations with friends who won money from gambling in a week. Everyone in the gathering was excited for the one who won! At that time, an impression about gambling formed: winning is an easy job! Hence, he expected himself to win as his friends, and imagined himself to be the one treating everybody a celebration meal in the future.

At the beginning, Ken did not know much about gambling on horseraces. He merely followed his friends’ choices to wager a few tens of dollars. After each win, he felt successful immensely. He once won over twenty thousand dollars by betting a few hundred dollars. This strengthened his perception of gambling: winning is an easy job! His betting amount gradually increased from a few tens to a few hundreds, then over thousands of dollars.

Ken’s gambling behavior eventually became uncontrollable, and he finally betted all he had on horseraces without second thought. He always thought that winning is easy, and he could even win all his losses back!


Influence of Gambling Myths

Owing to his superstitions about gambling, Ken always thought that winning in gambling was effortless. He could then use his money won on entertainment and luxurious goods. Once he lost his money, he kept gambling, even with a larger bet, in a hope to win back his losses.

As he had spent all on gambling, he could not afford his family’s basic expense. In addition to simple and quick borrowing procedures, his gambling behaviour became severe, and eventually, his debts were aggregated to an unaffordable amount. He sought help from his family and promised them not to gamble again. However, after his family had helped him repay his debts, he broke his promises and disappointed his family. Trust between him and his family was then damaged.

Family and friends could not persuade Ken to stop gambling. His financial difficulty made him irritable and avoidant, that he only wanted to hide from others. Ken always thought of gambling and his debts. To numb and vent his emotions and feelings, he consumed alcohol more and more often. He threw things or scolded people to let out his emotions. Gambling caused Ken’s family losing trust in Ken, and his health and emotions were affected in a great extent. Till early 2016, he was heavily indebted again which resulted bankruptcy.


Treatment and Change

Counsellor helped Ken to review and evaluate how his superstitions formed, and how his gambling behaviour changed before and after the formation of this thought, together with other impacts. Ken could then realized the facts from his personal experience, but not indulging in his imagined expectation. By scrutinizing his experience, Ken found that he only shared and boasted about his winning experience with friends, but seldom mentioned about his losses. He understood that his friends’ winning episodes only comprised a small part of their whole gambling life. And most probably, they hid away their losing experience.

Counsellor invited Ken to reflect on his personal experience to examine how true it was about easy winning. When Ken tried many times to look into his painful experience in losing, he finally admitted that it was not easy to win in gambling. He sighed, “if it was so easy to win in gambling, no one needed to work then!”

Ken was determined to leave gambling, and further acknowledged his risks and events of relapse. He currently endeavoured to avoid gambling talks among friends. When he heard his friend’s winning experiences, he excused himself with different reasons, in order to prevent thoughts of gambling.