Sydney, Australia (CNN)When Kate Sommerville visited a pub in Melbourne, Australia, to research a report on the socioeconomic impact of five new slot machines in the area, she never thought she would become an addict herself.
"I was almost instantaneously hooked," the 69-year-old confessed. "I was fascinated by the sensory stimulation: glittering lights, music, spinning of wheels. Everything about the machine is designed to draw you in."
Within months of starting to gamble in 2001, Sommerville, then a local government worker specializing in community support and health policies in Melbourne's eastern suburbs, was spending her entire salary on slot machines, known as pokies in Australia. She sold her car, remortgaged her flat and borrowed money at 40% interest.
Unable to concentrate, she eventually lost her job, and her seven-year relationship broke down soon after.