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The Responsible Gambling Council (RGC) is an independent non-profit organization dedicated to problem gambling prevention.

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For Someone You Know Who Gambles

Concerned about someone’s gambling?

If you are concerned about a loved one’s gambling, it is only natural to want to help. But it can be tricky: The gambler may deny that there is a problem or even refuse to talk about it.

The most important thing to remember is that you cannot stop the gambling. The gambler is the only person who can do so. But you can start a conversation, shine light on the situation and take steps to protect yourself.

Linda's story

Linda’s first reaction to her husband’s confession? Anger. The second overwhelming feeling was guilt: “How did I miss this?”

Read Linda's story

When she opened up to family about her husband’s gambling problem, Mina realized she wasn’t alone.

Read Mina's story

Before you raise the issue…

Get informed: Research problem gambling and speak to someone knowledgeable about it so you can understand what your loved one is going through.

Be prepared: Speak with someone you trust – like a counsellor, clergy member, doctor, family, parent or friend – and have generated a plan of action. If there is a chance of violent or abusive behaviour, exercise caution. Get a support system in place.

Choose the right moment: If the person is expressing remorse about gambling, or has just finished a gambling episode, this may be a good time to talk.

Raising your concerns…

Use an "I" point of view: Express feelings with “I feel” or “I think”. The listener will feel less defensive and an argument will be less likely.

Remain calm: Keep a cool head when talking about the person’s gambling and other hot button issues like family finances.

Negotiate and set firm boundaries: Make clear your expectations about future gambling, managing finances and responsibilities.

After the conversation…

Support positive changes: Recognize and acknowledge positive steps and give praise for successes.

Get help for yourself: A counsellor or a self help group can help you to communicate effectively, reduce your guilt and raise your self-esteem.

Protect your finances and if necessary, get help from a credit counselling agency.

Remember that change takes time: It may take several tries before the person successfully changes their gambling behaviour.

Tips for spouses, partners or other family members:


  • Recognize that gambling is only one aspect of your partner/family member’s life
  • Acknowledge their good qualities
  • Stay calm when discussing gambling and its consequences
  • Tell your partner/family member that you are seeking help for yourself
  • Acknowledge the problem to children using age-appropriate language and detail
  • Negotiate and put into place controls on the management of family finances. If your partner is unwilling to cooperate, make arrangements to protect your own finances.


  • Lecture, accuse or preach
  • Threaten or give ultimatums unless you plan to follow through
  • Gamble with your partner
  • Exclude the individual from family activities
  • Lend money to, or bail out, the gambler

If you are concerned about your gambling, or the gambling of someone you care about, there is free and confidential help.