How gambling drew Andrew Hamilton into a life of crime
He wanted to drive his car off the Spit Bridge to “escape the mess” his life had become.
The only time Hamilton wasn’t playing was when he was high, and the best way to feed the machines was to deal in a drug that everyone seemed to want.
“I’ve been wondering why magic mushrooms are illegal and bring such positive benefits to my life and so many others, while gambling is legal and destroying me?” he still wonders.
“I figured if our laws are evil and don’t make sense to me, why the hell should I bother obeying them?”
Hamilton doesn’t know how much he’s gambled away in 19 years of addiction – but he’s sure it’s in the millions.
Hamilton was 36 when he was convicted in NSW District Court and faced 20 years for supplying a commercial quantity of LSD, 15 years for the MDMA and life in prison for the mushrooms.
Judge Andrew Scotting, in his June 2022 ruling, detailed Hamilton’s journey from highly successful Shakespeare-reciting Riverview boy to PR mogul at age 26.
Hamilton had been convicted of hitting his boyfriend with a wrench over an ex-girlfriend aged 20, his only instance of violence.
In his 30s, he was a day-to-day alcoholic and drug addict, operating Brooklyn Crispy Pizza and throwing money at the slot machines around Surry Hills.
“[Hamilton] did not supply the drugs for profit but to support his own addiction,” the judge concluded after reading messages from Hamilton’s phone.
“The news provides simultaneous evidence that he has been struggling financially due to the extent of his drug and alcohol use and gambling.”
Criminal psychologist Tim Watson-Munro has met with Hamilton and said his story is typical of many in court.
“These people are under financial pressure related to their gambling habit, they get their money legally or nefariously through drug trafficking and they have to park it somewhere,” he said.
“In cases of great desperation, they end up in RSLs and in clubs, in the suburbs … where they run a lot through the machines.
“Gambling and drug addiction both go hand in hand.”
Another psychologist’s report, presented by Hamilton’s lawyers during his sentence, concludes that his escalating drug use was likely a coping mechanism for his stress and anxiety.
He served four months in prison and the remainder of his sentence upon release after pleading guilty.
The arrest saved Hamilton’s life by halting his addiction, the doctor told the court, and he turned to stand-up comedy.
Hamilton is now preparing for a show at the Melbourne Comedy Festival – the poster shows him handcuffed and grinning in a green prison uniform.
He will appear days after NSW voters vote in the state elections on March 25, which will focus on slot machine reform.
Premier Dominic Perrottet has promised to make all slot machines cashless within five years after a damning report by the NSW Crime Commission found billions in dirty money disappeared into slot machines.
Opposition leader Chris Minns is more cautious, committing to only a limited attempt at a cashless card if Labor wins government.
Hamilton said Australians would like to poke fun at the United States’ failures in gun control reform while refusing to address gambling addiction and slot machines.
“Every single piece of technology that goes into these machines is designed to rob you of your money and your ability to make rational decisions,” he said.
Hamilton said cashless cards are a good place to start, but addicts will find workarounds.
“Not much will change,” he said.
He wants the max spin on a slot machine in NSW to be reduced to $5. It’s currently $10.
“The current reform plans are a joke and will do nothing to prevent more lives being lost to poker machine cancer,” he said.
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https://www.smh.com.au/national/nsw/pokies-to-prison-how-gambling-dragged-andrew-into-a-life-of-crime-20230307-p5cq12.html?ref=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_source=rss_national_nsw How gambling drew Andrew Hamilton into a life of crime