Pokie machines are 'the crack cocaine of gambling', says former gambler

Michael Dempsey, who is a recovered gambler, says pokie machines are 'the most addictive form' when it comes to gambling.

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Michael Dempsey says he used to lose entire pay checks in a night due to his addiction. Source: Breakfast

Over the late 1990s and into the early 2000s, Mr Dempsey said he would visit the pokie machines several times a day, sometime losing entire paychecks.

"The pokie machines just around the corner from home were so accessible and were there the whole time. I would go to the pokie machines during lunch breaks just across the road from work."

He says his addiction initially began by playing table games at Auckland and Christchurch casinos through playing craps and blackjack. 

Michael Dempsey said he would lose large amounts of money very quickly, having to head to ATM machines to get more in order to keep playing. 

"The problem was I'd lose a bunch of money very quickly and I'd want to get it back because I felt I needed to get the money back. It was more money than I actually could afford to lose." 

During his battle with addiction, Mr Dempsey had to ban himself several times from the casino, which he would then continue to violate until casino staff would step in. 

It wasn't until he lost an entire month's worth of a paycheck within one night at the pokie machines that Mr Dempsey decided to stop gambling altogether. 

Now over 10 years clean, he says seeking help through the Problem Gambling Foundation were instrumental in his decision to stop.