Compulsive or excessive gambling is a problem that not only affects the gambler but also their friends and family members. It can be difficult, painful and frustrating to see a loved one suffering from a gambling problem. It can also create serious consequences as families can suffer from debt and property loss. Emotional suffering is also very present as loved ones are often manipulated and lied to. While you cannot make a gambler stop gambling, many people with gambling problems are able to turn their lives around because of support from loved ones.
Problem gambling can be difficult to recognise. Problem gamblers tend to live in denial and can become skilled at hiding their gambling. If you are concerned that a loved one has developed a gambling problem, look for the following warning signs:
- Changes in personality
- Becoming secretive about money and finances
- Neglecting household or family responsibilities
- Neglecting work or studies
- Concealing or lying about gambling activity
- Becoming defensive about gambling behaviour
- Borrowing money or stealing in order to fund gambling activities
- Spending significant amounts of time and money gambling
- Spending time gambling instead of spending time with family and friends
Talking about it is one of the very first steps to recovery. An honest, non-confrontational conversation may be just what your loved one needs to get started on their road to recovery.
Once the conversation is open, put actions in place and seek professional help if he/she needs it. You can seek help at the organisations listed in the Gamble Responsible-section.
The minimum legal age for online gambling in the UK is 18 years old. If you encounter underage gambling, information about the possible measures that you can take to prevent it and a list of website blocking software can be found on the No Underage Gambling-page. Some of those tools can also be useful for adults.