Signs Someone May Have a Gambling Problem

30 May 2022

Gambling can be a common recreational activity for some Aussies. In fact, 70% of Queenslanders participate in some form of gambling.

Whether it’s buying a lotto ticket or placing a bet at the races, there are more ways to gamble anywhere, at any time, than ever before.

This makes it more important than ever to know how to gamble safely, which can look like:

  • Having a clear limit of how much time and money is spent (and sticking to it)
  • Understanding the chances of winning or losing, as well as the risks
  • Treating gambling as a form of entertainment and not a way to make money
  • Having regular breaks in play
  • Having a balance between gambling and other recreational activities.

We look at some of the signs and impacts of problem gambling, where problem gambling can stem from, and how to seek help.


What exactly does ‘problem gambling’ mean and where does it start?

There are some common signs that gambling has become a problem. Problem gambling can cause serious consequences for the individual, their close ones, and the community.

Problem gambling occurs when an individual has difficulty limiting the amount of time or money they spend on gambling.

Other signs of problem gambling may include behavioural patterns that compromise, impair, disrupt and harm personal, family, or vocational interests.

Problem gambling can start off with no intentions to cause any harm and may include situations such as:

  • Playing for fun with friends or after work with colleagues
  • Having some wins and wanting to chase more
  • Playing the pokies or engaging in sports betting to alleviate stress or zone out
  • Using gambling environments to socialise without having to make conversation
  • Mixing gambling and alcohol


Impacts of Problem Gambling

No matter how much or how often someone gambles, the effects of gambling can still take a toll on how they feel. Gambling can lead to emotions such as guilt, stress, anxiety, and shame.

In a recent study covering the attitudes towards gambling harm, 1 in 10 people stated that they experienced harm from someone else’s gambling, and 1 in 18 people stated they experienced harm from their own gambling.

Some common consequences from problem gambling can be:

  • Negative impact on social life or relationships
  • Financial problems or debt
  • Loss of a job or problems at work due to lack of motivation, absences, inability to concentrate on work
  • Mental and emotional health concerns - increased stress, depression, panic attacks
  • Negative impacts on family, affecting the functioning of relationships and parenting
  • Loss of control - gambling can be addictive and start to take over, it can be hard to stop even when you know it is causing you and your family harm.


“Your life does not get better by chance, it gets better by change.” – Jim Rohn


Signs to Look Out For

These signs may indicate problem gambling:

  • Inability to pay for bills
  • Accumulating debt
  • Preoccupation with gambling and spending less time with people they care about
  • Performance at work or education has reduced, or they’re taking lots of sick days off
  • Gambling has become a main topic of conversation
  • Asking to borrow money or selling assets
  • A change in appearance and grooming
  • Skipping meals to spend time gambling
  • Neglecting responsibilities.

It’s important to remember that gambling can be hidden well. It can be difficult to notice any signs as some people experiencing problem gambling can go to great lengths to hide it.


What to do if You Recognise the Signs

Friends, work colleagues, and family are often the first to pick up on any signs that someone may be developing a gambling problem. While this may be concerning, it can also be a positive step to help someone get back on track.

If you’re concerned someone you know may have developed a problem with gambling, check in and ask them about it.

You can’t guarantee how they’ll respond, but it can be a good opportunity to let them know you care about them.


We offer some tips for how to get the conversation started here: How to Talk to Someone with a Gambling Problem | Gambling Help QLD


If you recognise any or some of these signs in yourself or someone you care about, you may need to talk to someone to get advice and support.

We have a range of free and confidential counsellors here to support anyone impacted by gambling.

Call the 24/7 helpline on 1800 858 858.

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