Gambling – advice for family and friends

Do not lend EFTPOS or credit cards or share ‘pin’ numbers, or leave that information where it can be found. It is important to protect yourself from any harm that may arise from your family member or friend’s problem with gambling.

Seek legal, financial and other advice to explore your options.

Decide if you can manage the gambler’s money. Talk to trusted people who will not judge you or the person that gambles.

You cannot force them to stop gambling. They may feel out of control, embarrassed or ashamed.

The gambling is the problem, not the person.

You are not to blame for their behaviour. You can convey a willingness to support them. Contacting a gambling counsellor is a good place to start.

Coping with a loved one’s problem gambling can be very distressing. Talk with a professional who understands problem gambling if you are starting to experience overwhelming sadness, anxiety or anger. 13 11 14

SuicideLine Victoria Tel. There are Gambler’s Help services available throughout Victoria, which provide:

Spending time with others socialising can relieve stress.

Photocopy (and keep in a safe place) copies of important documents such as house title, marriage and birth certificates, and tax file numbers.

Don’t sign anything you don’t understand or are not prepared to pay for. 1800 858 858, TTY 1800 777 706 – 24-hour telephone counselling service

Gambling Help Online – for problem gambling counselling and support (Australia-wide), 24 hours, seven days

Gamblers Anonymous Tel. Coping with a family member or friend’s gambling behaviour can be exhausting. It won’t work and will make you unhappy. You don’t need to talk about your concerns if you don’t want to. Having time out to do things you like can stop you from getting consumed by someone else’s gambling.

Confide in people you trust

Friends or family members can often feel isolated and alone. It may be helpful to seek support from others. Consider talking frankly to other affected members of the family so you can support each other.

Counselling or self-help groups can assist you in making decisions about your relationship.

A healthy diet, regular exercise and adequate rest can improve your wellbeing, and increase your resilience to stress. A gambling counsellor can help you avoid a bad credit history if you have joint credit or loans with the gambler.

Take control of finances, for example, organise direct debits for bills, mortgages and regular debits, and limit access to cash.

No matter what you say or do, ultimately the only person who can stop gambling is the gambler. Information about a therapy, service, product or treatment does not imply endorsement and is not intended to replace advice from your doctor or other registered health professional. Do not help them lie and deceive.

Practical steps to avoid financial harm

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In most cases, people who have a gambling problem have difficulty handling money when gambling opportunities exist. General suggestions include:

Seek professional advice about how to protect your family’s assets and income.

Do not lend the gambler money.

Do not pay the gambler’s debts.

Budget and allow each member of the family some spending money, including the problem gambler.

Seek support for yourself

Page content currently being reviewed.

Content on this website is provided for education and information purposes only. If not, you may need to maintain separate bank accounts and credit cards.

Remove your name from joint accounts to avoid inheriting the gambler’s debt. Communicate your feelings carefully and openly. For example, let them deal with creditors and their employer. Consider talking frankly to other affected members of the family so you can support each other.Socialise with others

This page has been produced in consultation with and approved by:

Victorian Responsible Gambling Foundation


It’s not your fault

Problem gambling can strain relationships. A gambling counsellor can give you other suggestions on how to look after yourself.Making decisions about your relationship

You may need to put emotional and physical distance between yourself and the gambler. Content has been prepared for Victorian residents and wider Australian audiences, and was accurate at the time of publication. Suggestions include:

Inform the gambler of the negative impact that their gambling is having on you. Choose to say ‘I can’t do this for you, but I will be with you while you do it’.

Allow them to take responsibility for their behaviour. 1300 651 251

Things to remember

You have the right to feel safe, and emotionally and financially secure.

Seek professional advice about how to protect your family’s assets and income.

Talk to trusted people who will not judge you or the person that gambles. Counselling or self-help groups can help you make important decisions about your relationship.

Gambler’s Help is a free service for people who are affected by gambling. 1800 134 139 or (03) 9663 2000

Lifeline Tel. Use your energy to help change your own situation rather than theirs. Your relationship with them may cease or dramatically change in the short or long term. Readers should note that, over time, currency and completeness of the information may change. It is important to remember:

You cannot force your family member or friend to acknowledge that their gambling is a problem.

Your relationship with the gambler

Last updated:

December 2012

Free, professional, confidential counselling for people for whom gambling is an issue

Counselling for the family and friends of people for whom gambling is an issue

Financial counselling to help people with gambling-related money problems

Advice on self-exclusion programs and other support services

Community education to help communities reduce the negative effects of gambling.

Where to get help

Your doctor or other health professionals

Gambler’s Help Tel.

Don’t try to take control of the gambler’s life. Avoid trying to protect them.

Support them in their struggle, but don’t take on their burden.

Relate to them as an equal person. Maintain your friendships, continue with your interests and hobbies, and do things that you find enjoyable.Look after your health

You have the right to feel safe, and emotionally and financially secure. All users are urged to always seek advice from a registered health care professional for diagnosis and answers to their medical questions. Take steps to protect yourself and the people around you from financial harm.

Let the gambler know you want to help.

Check the mail yourself for bills.

Keep records of all finances including assets, income, expenses, contributions and gifts. If taking action puts your safety or the safety of others at risk, you may need professional help.

Relationship counselling and mediation can be a safer alternative for discussing problems and seeking solutions if there is a communication breakdown between you and the gambler. (03) 9696 6108 – support group for people with a gambling problem

Gamble Aware – information about the odds of winning, how gambling works, and when to stop

Financial and Consumer Rights Council Tel

Amelia Woodward

Amelia Woodward

Hopefully you will now be less likely to fall for a system that doesn't work. There are systems that can and will bring you rewards but it is imperative that you know what you are buying first.
Amelia Woodward

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