Hastings residents are being encouraged to check in on their family and friends about safe betting during Responsible Gambling Awareness Week.
The annual week promoting awareness of gambling harm in the NSW community ends on Sunday, September 22.
It includes promotions from the NSW Government about understanding risky behaviour, providing practical ways to keep gambling under control and how to seek help.
Gambling Help Mid North Coast gambling counsellor Stephen Edman, who has been working in the field for more than 20 years, says most people gamble with their own money by keeping it a secret.
"It is evident to me that gambling becomes a problem the moment it becomes a secret," he said.
"For the most part people are acting within the law, and yet it's a behaviour they can feel deeply ashamed about.
"I believe it's this shame that they feel which prevents them from speaking about it."
Mr Edman said gambling could be seen as a secret relationship, threatening the trust between family members.
"If you want to gamble, have some authenticity and be honest. Let other people around you know what you are doing," he said.
"I have witnessed how a lot of distress is caused when the gambling relationship becomes known. The partner starts to question what is the truth and what can they believe.
"(The gambling) process can be so strong that a person may not wish to leave, they make the connection and it feels right at the time.
"It's only afterwards when they disconnect that reality comes home and they may feel overwhelmed with shame."
Port Macquarie Race Club chief executive Michael Bowman said venues with gambling facilities have a responsibility to the public.
"It's something we have to be constantly aware of. We try to manage problem gambling and encourage responsible gambling," he said.
"Generally speaking we are seeing more younger patrons using their phones on course and in clubs, the older ones may still prefer to use the operators.
"It's important to promote the message of gambling responsibly."
Gambling behaviour affects both genders, all ages and all income groups, according to Mr Edman.
"There may be other factors in their life that aren't being attended to, they may not know how to attend to them," he said.
"What I have noticed is that more people are accessing their gambling via their phone. They don't need to go to a venue, they can access it on their phone and it adds to the secrecy.
"Start to talk and end the secrecy."
If you or someone you care about needs help with gambling, call 1800 858 858 to speak with a counsellor or meet one face-to-face, visit the Gambling Help Online website to chat with a counsellor via live online chat or email 24/7.
Advice and help is available for Aboriginal people in NSW by calling 1800 752 948.
Local licensed venues may also have a self-exclusion program to help quit gambling.
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