Loved One Gambling Too Much? Learn What to Do

Whether your father’s pawned an heirloom for gambling money or your wife didn’t make a family event because she was parked in front of the slots, you understand that sometimes gambling becomes more than entertainment. It becomes a binge-like or all-consuming activity. If you love a person who struggles to control their gambling, here’s what you can do to help them and yourself:

Start a conversation with the gambler.

If your loved one isn’t in treatment for gambling, it’s time to begin a conversation with him or her. Choose a quiet time (i.e. not in the middle of an argument) and let them know you have concerns about the behavior. Use “I” statements, such as “I’m worried because the money for the mortgage was lost at the racetrack.” If you’re unsure where to start, contact the Compass Mark team for confidential, judgement-free guidance.

Take care of your own emotional well-being.

Like other addictions, compulsive gambling is a family disease. You’re likely feeling a range of negative emotions, including anger, guilt, frustration, weariness, or embarrassment. Start your own path to wellness by talking with a friend, spiritual counselor, or professional therapist. In particular, a therapist will offer the resources to assess your well-being and provide techniques for coping with stress and negative emotions in a healthy way.

Get a grasp on your personal financial situation.

For spouses or partners of compulsive gamblers, it’s essential to take control of your finances. Create separate checking and savings accounts that the gambler cannot access, and then deposit all your personal income, like paychecks, there. Close joint credit card accounts as well and, if necessary, open new accounts in your name only. If your finances are tied to the gambler’s debts, contact a nonprofit debt counseling service for guidance.

Learn more in How to Protect Your Money from a Problem Gambler.

Get help if the relationship is abusive.

Problem gambling has been linked to higher levels of domestic violence. If your partner is verbally or physically abusive, seek help immediately for yourself and, when necessary, minor children or elderly parents. Don’t wait and hope the situation will get better. Contact:

Domestic Violence Services of Lancaster County: 717-299-1249 (collect calls accepted)
Domestic Violence Intervention of Lebanon County: 1-866-686-0451
National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1-800-799-SAFE (7233)


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