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Help ads aimed at NSW gambling addicts

Help ads aimed at NSW gambling addicts
Photo: Help ads aimed at NSW gambling addicts
A new NSW government campaign is urging problem gamblers to reach out for help - before it's too late.

You don't have to hit rock-bottom before you seek help with a gambling problem.

That's the message driving the latest NSW government campaign, You're Stronger Than You Think, aimed at men aged between 30 and 49.

The average age of those who call Gambling Help, a free expert counselling service, is 42.

But it's "way too late in many cases", according to gambling counsellor Chris Davidson.

"Most people will wait anywhere from two to 10 years - and that's too long, a lot of damage can be done in that time, financial, relationship breakdowns, family breakdowns, loss of career," he said.

Over the next four years, $48 million will be given to the Responsible Gambling Fund, distributed between research, awareness and counselling - where the bulk of the funds will go.

It's estimated that there are 40,000 problem gamblers in NSW alone.

Many fail to seek help because the issue is rooted in social isolation and feelings of shame and embarrassment, say experts.

"There's a taboo around it," reformed pokies addict Tovia Alefosio told AAP on Monday.

Addressing the campaign launch in Sydney, he told how he had led a double life, borrowing money from friends and family and losing more than $70,000.

"I'd end up spending my entire pay packet and then lie to my partner, saying that the pay lady had made a mistake.

"It wasn't until my partner was standing at the door with her bags packed, did I realise that I had hit rock-bottom."

The 43-year-old is urging other heavy gamblers to take the first step to recovery.

"Just talk to someone, anyone, and if you don't want to do that just have a look online about it.

"Asking for help isn't a weakness, it takes courage and is a sign of strength."

Seek help for your gambling problem from the 24hr hotline: 1800 858 858, or visit

Copyright AAP 2014


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