How to Help a Gambler Stop

15 Nov 2021

Are you worried gambling has become a problem for someone you care about?

The effects of unsafe gambling can impact the family, friends, and even colleagues of someone with a gambling problem. But it can be hard to know how to help – or even if you should raise the issue.

We hope these tips help you get an idea of how you might start the conversation and encourage someone to avoid risky gambling behaviours.


Share Your Concerns

If it’s safe to do so, raise your concerns at an appropriate time. This might be in a private, quiet place when it’s just the two of you.

Talk about your own experience of how their gambling is affecting you and/or your relationship.

Be sure to use “I” statements when sharing your feelings so your loved one doesn’t feel attacked. For example, “I’ve noticed” or “I’m worried.”

Instead of “You’re gambling too much” you might say: “I’m worried about how much time you spend on betting apps.”


Listen Without Judgement

It’s common for people who struggle with unsafe gambling to feel ashamed about their gambling. They might even try to hide it from the people around them.

This is why it’s so important to try to listen without interrupting, arguing, or passing judgement. If they feel judged or attacked, they might shut down or get defensive, and this rarely leads to a constructive conversation.

Encourage them to share their story and reassure them that you care and want to help.


Avoid Enabling Them

There are some things we can do that might encourage unsafe gambling, even if we have the best of intentions.

Avoiding these behaviours may support your loved one to reduce their gambling:

  • Don’t force them to stop or get help. Trying to help someone with a gambling problem before they’re ready can do more harm than good.
  • Don’t make excuses for them or cover for them when they’ve made a mistake or wronged someone. This can enable continued destructive behaviours.
  • Don’t loan them money or allow them to apply for loans or credit cards in your name.

Are your loved one’s gambling habits causing you stress? Professional and confidential help is available for anyone impacted by problem gambling.

Learn more about our counselling services or call the free gambling helpline on 1800 858 858.

We offer more advice for friends and family of people with unhealthy gambling behaviours on our Support for You page.

Contact us

If gambling has become a problem for you, or someone you care about, get some help. It’s free and confidential.

Call the Gambling Helpline on 1800 858 858 anytime 24 hours a day, 7 days a week

Click for face-to-face counselling locations

Click for online counselling and real time chat