His wife was about to give birth but, in his crazed pursuit to find luck, a gambling addict insisted on taking her to an underground gambling den. He took her to a hospital only after winning $10,000.
But on the same night she waited to give birth in the hospital, he went back to gamble and lost all his winnings.
The addict, a taxi driver called Mr Lin, regrets what he did nine years ago, Shin Min Daily News reported yesterday.
The 42-year-old said that he grew up in Geylang and would often meet gamblers. By the age of six or seven, he had already learnt how to play mahjong.
He studied up to primary school before stopping his studies. He sold peanuts at pubs to earn a living but would lose his earnings at the gambling table.
After he got married, Mr Lin did not change his ways. When his wife was pregnant with his first child, someone told him that taking a woman who is about to give birth to a game would bring one good fortune.
"The day before my wife was expected to deliver, I insisted on taking her to an underground gambling den. Sure enough, my luck was good that night and I won $10,000," he said.
Mr Lin then took his wife to the hospital. But before the baby was born, he left to gamble again, thinking he could win more money. He lost it all instead.
"The birth of a child is supposed to be a happy occasion. My wife knew I had gone to gamble and cried. She refused to talk to me for two to three weeks," recounted Mr Lin.
His wife, mother and sister have borrowed money and sold property to help him pay off his $150,000 gambling debt.
When he was 21, he borrowed money from loan sharks and his then girlfriend, now his wife, borrowed $40,000 from friends and family to pay off his debts.
"Her parents objected to our relationship but she still chose to marry me, thinking I would change my ways," he said.
"Later, my mother sold her house for $170,000 to help pay off $70,000 of my debts, and the rest was credited to a joint account. But I gambled it all away, too," he said regretfully.
Mr Lin's sister had also sold her home and lent him $40,000 to clear his debts.
"But I was still obsessed and kept thinking of winning back the money I lost to gambling," he said.
He made a breakthrough three years ago. He came around after his sister introduced him to Blessed Grace Social Services, a non-profit organisation which runs a gamblers' recovery centre (8428-6377).
Now, he goes to the centre every Tuesday and Saturday to volunteer his time to counsel gambling addicts.
"In the past, I couldn't hold my head up high. Now, I can encourage others and myself, see families heal and remind myself not to go down the twisted path," he said.
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