Responsible Gambling Awareness Week promotes thinking and better choices

PEOPLE across NSW are encouraged to think about their gambling habits and promote sensible gambling choices as part of Responsible Gambling Awareness Week.

The week of October 23 to 29 and aims to get the 65 per cent of NSW adults who gamble to think carefully about their limits whenever they have a bet.

The current period between the football grand finals and Melbourne Cup is a great time for people to reflect on their gambling behaviour and consider if they need to make any changes.

Young people in particular are being invited to get involved in Responsible Gambling Awareness Week and learn about the need to keep to limits when having a bet.

Port Macquarie gambling counsellor, Steve Edman, speaks with upwards of 10 people a week who need help with problems associated to gambling.

Mr Edman said when someone asks for help, it is often because it creates financial hardship or is having an impact on their life at home.

“There’s a huge stigma that attaches to gambling as a problem, and from my experience it does take a bit for people to want to talk about it,” he said.

“Gambling counsellors are contacted mostly because people are sick of not winning, it’s creating financial hardship for them, or maybe they lie about their behaviour because people don’t understand why they’re doing what they’re doing.

“It’s a behaviour that comes about because people are trying to cope with life.”

It is that coping mechanism, he said, that leads to the gambling as a way of numbing their issues.

“They aren’t sure how to resolve those difficulties. It doesn’t work for a counsellor to say “you need to do this or that”,” he said.

“I can say that to myself and still struggle. It’s really about engaging people, knowing they’re being heard and becoming curious to see if any change is possible.

“The ones who come to counselling and who are looking to change, that are wanting things to change, then counselling works.”

Problem gamblers can undertake a self exclusion, as across hotels and clubs a multi-venue self exclusion now exists.

A person can nominate up to 35 venues with three options: do not allow them play pokies, to go into a venue or to do any form of gambling.

You can seek help by phoning Steve, or calling the National Gambling Helpline on 1800 858 858 or visiting www.gamblinghelp.nsw.gov.au/rgaw2017/