Gamblers's Family members Go Back

To: Caritas A. G. Counselling Centre


I've visited your website and found it very comprehensive and informative, especially the Q&A section. The AG situation in Hong Kong is quite severe, and I'd like to share my experience with it.


My mother-in-law is a pathological gambler. She's addicted to playing mahjong and to betting on horse races and the Mark Six lottery. My mother-in-law is in her late fifties, and has been unemployed for a couple of years now. In the past, she worked as a seamstress in garment factories, but after most of these factories moved to southern China, she lost her job, and embarked on a few failed business where she would sell garments wholesale obtained from her acquaintances with Chinese factories. She later became a boss of her own business, although they all failed. My mother-in-law is divorced and after work, her only source of entertainment and leisure is mahjong playing with her friends, sometimes at the locations of her shops and sometimes at mahjong recreation centres. Since she didn't want to lose face or admit to being unemployed or without income, my mother-in-law would always accept being invited to playing mahjong and to going to Macau on gambling weekends with her friends, most of which were housewifes or whom had sources of income. Late last year, through her friends, my wife and her sister learned that their mother owed 100 thousand dollars to a few friends, all gambling debts. When confronted, my mother-in-law denied everything, and said those people were her friends and she did not need to pay them back. When further confronted, she threatened her offspring with committing suicide. She told them that she would sometimes sleep in the street parks of Shamshuipo because she didn't have money to take a taxi back home. I guess she wanted her daughters to give her money so she could live and play. My wife and her sister then decided to pay off her debts with one condition: that she move back to China to stay with her family, which would take care of her as her Hong Kong family was busy working and paying off our flat's mortgage (we're negative equity homeowners). Eventually, she agreed and has been in China for almost a year now. She has wanted to return a few times, but she has no way to pay her airfare, but at least she's being taken care of by her own famiy, with my wife sending them money every month to pay for her needs. Lately, despite being away from HK gambling for almost a year, she still insisits on returning and even has come up with a plan to deal with future debts: she will declare bankruptcy every time she owes money to people, so she will never have to pay back. This is now her universal solution to all problems involving money: declare bankruptcy and repeat the whole thing. One never has to pay. Obviously, her daughters know she is still in denial about her gambling addiction and problems, so they will not fall for her plans. They will not let her return. During all her debts crisis, my wife and I were under a lot of stress. She would receive calls from rude people wanting money to be repaid and we feared that our flat would be vandalised by money collectors. My wife had to cancel all her mother's credit cards and accounts, and she had to pay for all her mother's bills too. Luckily, nowadays, we're no longer under this kind of stress, but we have to keep an eye on these things happening again. In HK when a person can win tens of millions on the lottery, many think this is the easy way to riches. It's sad that so many people are so greedy. I have witnessed my mother-in-law and her gambling friends filling lottery tickets from 8pm until 10am overnight and using a gambling fund to pay for hundreds, maybe thousands, of lottery tickets, certainly never winning the first prize. She used to ask me about computer software for choosing lottery numbers or choosing winners in horse races. If she could use all her energy instead to find a job and earn a decent living, she could accomplish anything, including having a loving family, but instead she used all her free time searching a shortcut to winning millions. So sad, and even sadder that so many HK people are just like her.


Anyway, I thought I'd share my story. Maybe your staff will find it useful.


Feel free to use it.


Best regards, and keep up the good work.


Mr Harry Chen

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