How to Stay Safe When Your Partner Is Gambling

14 May 2024

Is your partner’s gambling affecting you, and you aren’t sure what to do?

Gambling harm can extend to a person’s relationships and family. Gambling harm may look like relationship stress, distrust, arguing, financial problems, and can be related to domestic violence and financial abuse.

In this blog post, we’ll discuss how you can protect yourself, your finances, and your children if your partner's gambling is affecting you.


Staying safe and protecting your finances

Even if your partner’s gambling has not yet become harmful or a “gambling problem,” it’s a good idea to safeguard yourself and your money.

Here are some precautions you can take to protect your finances when your partner is gambling:

  1. Check and open your own mail
  2. Set aside an “escape fund” – just in case
  3. Keep your bank cards and money in a safe place
  4. Regularly check your bank statements / banking app
  5. Close or separate any joint bank accounts you have with that person
  6. If you lend them money, put it in writing and have a repayment plan
  7. Update your bank log-in details and pin codes and set up a two-factor authentication.

“That sense of needing safety is always with us, for good or bad. And if an escape fund helps a person feel safe, then it's doing its job."

-Helen, Gambling Help Counsellor

Some banks have trained staff who provide specialised support to those impacted by financial abuse and gambling.


What is financial abuse?

Financial abuse is when someone controls, manipulates, or restricts your access to your money and finances. Financial abuse can be hard to identify, especially because of gender and cultural norms related to money.

A Queensland study found a strong correlation between male partners experiencing gambling harm and perpetrating financial abuse (AIFS).

“This most commonly involved economic exploitation of the woman’s resources to gain money for gambling, and included stealing from the woman, children, or family business; spending all his income on gambling; withdrawing money from her accounts without permission; gambling money earmarked for household expenses; and frequently lying about where the family’s money was going. Perpetrators often created debt for their partner without her knowledge by fraudulently using her credit cards and forging her signature on loans or extended mortgage applications. Economic control included preventing the woman from having any money or allocating her a meagre amount to maintain the household.”

-Australian Institute of Family Studies

Signs of financial abuse in relation to gambling include:

  1. Stealing from you
  2. Controlling your finances
  3. Gambling with your money
  4. Being secretive about their finances
  5. Racking up debt on joint credit cards
  6. Spending shared money on gambling
  7. Coercing you to take out a loan or credit card
  8. Not having money despite earning a liveable wage
  9. Not being able to contribute to bills because of gambling
  10. Asking to borrow money for gambling and not paying it back
  11. Putting an unfair amount of shared financial responsibilities onto you.


How gambling can affect relationships, families, and children

When gambling becomes harmful (referred to as a “gambling problem”), it can take a toll on relationships, families, and children. Almost 10% of all Australian parents have engaged in harmful gambling in the past year, and 4% of Australian families are exposed to severe gambling harm.

When a person’s gambling becomes harmful, it may cause:

  • Distrust in their relationships
  • Feelings of betrayal in partners and family
  • Disagreements about the extent of their gambling
  • Financial problems which extend to their partner and family.

A parent’s gambling may affect their children’s psychological wellbeing. Children of gamblers report feelings ofincluding neglect, feelings of shame, and higher rates of depression and anxiety.

Financial harm from gambling may lead to financial abuse of family members.


Seeking help for yourself

As the partner of someone who is gambling, there are free resources available to support you.

We provide some advice on what to do if your partner is gambling.

If this article has brought on further concerns about domestic and family violence, help is available by calling or visiting 1800RESPECT.


Support is available

If you would like more information about what to do if your partner is gambling, free support is available. Gambling Help counsellors are available 24/7 for confidential support at 1800 858 858.

Contact us

If gambling is impacting your life or a loved one's life, it's okay to reach out for help. It’s free and confidential.

Call the 24/7 Gambling Helpline on 1800 858 858

Face-to-face counselling locations