I grew up in an environment where 'gambling' was the norm. I'm from a multicultural background. Mother was Australian (from British and European descent) and father was from Dutch/Chinese (with a little Indonesian or Malaysian). English was the only language spoken in the house.
Both my parents played the pokies. In those days, there were none in Queensland, they had to go into New South Wales which they did on a regular basis. I don't know how much they won or lost it was never discussed. My father used to also go to the TAB on a Saturday morning to place his bets. Later on he took a job where he had to go to the greyhound track, trots and horse race track. Again I have absolutely no idea how much he won or lost.
When I was a young child, the family would play poker for match sticks and as I grew up it was for 1 and 2 cent coins.
As an adult I didn't gamble - mainly because there were no pokies or casinos in Queensland and I didn't travel to NSW to play. I starting playing the pokies while living in South Australia, where they were freely available and after I got a promotion that meant I had some 'disposable income'. At first I only took $20 once a week/fortnight. But then I hit a jackpot. Well, that sent me into a spiral and it was also at the time when I started to have anxiety and depression issues associated with childhood sexual, physical and emotional abuse.
I used the pokies to go into a trance - complete focus, numbing out my emotions and feelings. I didn't tell my husband or anyone. Why? not sure, maybe because my husband was raised in a family where gambling was 'not the norm' (methodist background). He didn't even want to purchase a raffle ticket. I told my husband only when I wanted to stop because I had built up a huge credit card debt. I went to see a counsellor that specialised in childhood sexual abuse and told him about my gambling problems too. It only took a short while and I ceased playing.
Unfortunately, I started again, about 5 years later when I got my memory back of my childhood rape. Again I spiralled out of control, building up a credit card debt. This time I had myself banned from the places I frequented, told my husband and my psych. Have not been back since.
I believe I used the pokies as a mechanism to tune out from emotions, feelings, the outside world. It is still gambling though and I have wasted a lot of money.
I can't explain why it's not talked about, other than feeling shame for wasting money.