What To Do When Your Partner Is Gambling

6 Mar 2024

Is your partner’s gambling affecting your relationship?

If you and your partner disagree on their gambling, it may lead to relationship problems. You may be wondering how you can promote safer gambling activities and change their behaviours to stay together or if it’s in your best interest to break up.

In this blog post, we’ll discuss signs that your partner may be experiencing gambling harm, how you can support your partner, and how to best look after yourself when your partner is gambling.


What are the signs that my partner is gambling harmfully?

Signs of gambling harm can be hard to identify – it’s not always as obvious as spending lots of time at the pokies.

Here are some signs that may indicate your partner’s gambling has become harmful and could be impacting your relationship:

  • Unexplained missing money
  • Negative emotions when betting
  • Being withdrawn from family and mates
  • Spending a lot of time on gambling apps
  • Being secretive or dishonest about money
  • Trying to gamble as a way to make more money
  • Short on money, even though they earn a liveable wage
  • Taking an unusual amount of time to run regular errands
  • Anger or avoidance when talking about the topic of gambling
  • Underperforming at, being late to, or missing work or studies
  • Disappearing and not answering their phone, especially on payday.

If it’s safe to do so, communicate with your partner about your concern surrounding their gambling.


How to talk to your partner about their gambling

How we talk about gambling matters. Calling someone a “problem gambler” or saying they have a “gambling problem” can bring up feelings of shame and might change the dynamic of a conversation. Consider using phrasing that identifies the harms caused by gambling.

Talking to your partner about gambling may be difficult. Remaining respectful and positive can make the conversation easier for both of you.

Here are some steps for talking to your partner about their gambling:

  1. Choose a private, comfortable place which is safe for both you and your partner
  2. Begin the conversation when you’re both feeling calm and have time to talk
  3. Remind them you care about them, and their wellbeing is important to you
  4. If you’re feeling awkward, just say so – they might be feeling the same
  5. Take a break when the emotions get too high
  6. Avoid blaming or making accusations
  7. Maintain a respectful tone
  8. Be solutions-focused.

Here are some more tips on talking to someone about their gambling.


How to help your partner if they want to stop gambling

Stopping gambling isn’t always the easiest solution. For some, it may be appropriate to consider other options, like practising safer gambling techniques.

Here are some tips for your partner to reduce or change their gambling:

  • Limit use of drugs and alcohol
  • Practise healthy communication
  • Talk to trusted friends and family
  • Review the impacts of gambling on your finances
  • Set budgets; prioritise paying bills and buying necessities
  • Look for other activities to keep their mind off of gambling
  • Remind yourselves about the negative impacts of gambling
  • Remember the journey might include setbacks and relapses
  • Understand the odds of winning and common misconceptions
  • Seek community support, such as the Gambling Help counsellors
  • Avoid going places or doing activities that may be gambling triggers
  • Limit the amount of time and money spent while gambling; limit access to cash and cards

You may want to learn more about self-help options.


Staying with your partner who gambles

Sometimes, difficult experiences can strengthen relationships. With the right strategies and support, it’s possible for you and your partner to move forward together from gambling harm.

Here are some tips if staying with a partner who gambles:

  • Seek support for yourself
  • Attend relationship counselling
  • Encourage them to seek counselling
  • Be respectful when talking about gambling
  • Remind them you want to support their journey
  • Help them explore alternatives to gambling, like exercise
  • Try to understand the causes of their gambling, such as trauma.
  • Clearly set your boundaries and expectations – a relationship is a two-way street.


When it might be time to break up with a partner who gambles

Unfortunately, there are times when breaking up is the best choice for one or both partners.

Here are some indications it might be time to break up with your partner who gambles:

  • Your mental health is suffering
  • Your finances are being impacted
  • Mutual trust is irreconcilably broken
  • You have children who are being affected by the gambling
  • Your partner is becoming emotionally abusive or physically abusive
  • You have already tried to move forward from gambling together as a couple.

If your partner’s gambling is impacting you, support is available. If you feel unsafe in your relationship, DVConnect is available 24/7 at 1800 811 811.


Support is available

Is gambling impacting your relationship and you want to talk to someone? Free, confidential support is available now.

Gambling Help Queensland offers free, confidential, 24/7 support and advice from trained Gambling Help counsellors. You can speak to a counsellor or schedule an in-person session by calling the 24/7 helpline at 1800 858 858.


A note about gambling terminology

How we talk about gambling makes a difference.

You may notice our website and our ads on telly try to avoid phrases like “gamble responsibly”, “problem gambling,” “gambling addiction,” or even “stop gambling.”

These terms can contribute to negative stigma surrounding gambling and further alienate people who gamble.

Instead of “problem gambling,” you’ll notice we use phrases like “gambling harm.”

Your counsellor will never tell you to just “stop gambling.” The Gambling Help service can help you explore options for safer gambling and to reduce or change your gambling at your own pace.

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