Adults 25+ know that poker machines are programmed to take more money than they give out, that's simply a given. For many adults 18 - 24 however whose brains are yet to fully develop, this reality is lost on them. This age group spends more on poker machines than any other age group according to recent statistics.
A spokesman from problemgambling.com.au has indicated that many adult problem gamblers developed their issues with gambling during their teenage years.
Mark (not his real name), a 22 year old from Cambelltown, was first exposed to the world of poker machines when he turned 18 and began visiting local pubs and clubs. For he and many of his friends gambling was, like drinking, just "part of becoming an adult."
However, as with many with the propensity to gamble, a $5 dollar 'hobby' quickly escalated into an addiction that was costing Mark up to $1000 per week, seeing him become increasingly isolated from his friends, family and girlfriend. He estimates that in a period of four months he lost roughly $14,000 on poker machines.
"That's a lot of money," he said. "As it was going on I started to gamble by myself. On pay days I would wait to get paid and then go up to the pub and try and flip it. When I went to work there were pubs everywhere. On my lunch break I'd go to the pub and after work I'd go to the pub."
Mariette Ennik, a gambling counsellor from Mission Australia, said that young people can be particularly vulnerable to gambling. "For many people including young people gambling is a form of entertainment, however for small numbers of people it causes major problems."
Like most gambling addicts, Mark was always on the lookout for his "big win."
One night Mark had his big win of $5500. He realises now that that amount could have set him up and bought him a car. Instead he went back the next day and blew most of it trying to double it.
His addiction to poker machines combined with some personal problems eventually landed him in trouble with the law.
He said, "I lost everything. Everything that I had worked for up to that day was gone."
Mark has now, thankfully, sought help for his addiction but fears that he will not be the last young person to learn the lesson the hard way and gamble everything and lose.
"Even before you turn 18 there are game apps that focus on footy matches. Dogs, footy matches, that's all gambling. You might think it's harmless fun but it's not."