Problem Gambling Services Logo

Help for Family, Friends, and Other Persons Affected

  • "What About You"  Watch video!
  • Note: Gam-Anon telephone number, as referred to in this film, is updated to 1-855-222-5542

Family members, and sometimes friends, can be directly impacted when someone has a gambling problem.  If you are a family member or friend concerned about a loved one’s gambling, or if you feel overwhelmed by someone’s gambling and don’t know how to cope, you too can get help from one of the counselors of the Bettor Choice program.  All have been trained to help you to help yourself to deal with this issue in your life.  Don’t hesitate!  Call the number listed in "Finding Help" of the closest counselor in your area.

   What to Say if Someone’s Gambling Concerns You      

A simple and straightforward approach to letting someone know you are concerned is often most helpful. That sounds easier to do than it really is. Not everyone will be thankful that someone cares enough to share his or her concern. None of us can control what a person says or does in reaction to what we say. We can, however, control what we say, how we say it, and where and when we talk to a person about whom we are concerned. 

Although there is no foolproof way to share a concern with another person, the following process has worked well for many people. Read through the following examples, and try them out the next time you want to tell a friend that you are concerned about something he or she is doing. 

  • Tell the person that you care and that you feel concerned about the way he or she is acting.

“You are a good friend, and I’m upset because I see you doing things that are really risky.”

“I love you and don’t want you to hurt yourself.”

  • Tell the person exactly what he or she has done that concerns you.

“Last night you were going to spend only $20, but you lost more than $300.”

“You borrowed $400 from me to gamble with more than four months ago and haven’t paid me back.”

“After we had an argument last night, you went out and lost $600 gambling.”

 After you tell the person that you care, what you’ve seen, and how you feel, it is important to be willing to listen to what he or she says. You may find that the person will say nothing. He or she may not have been prepared for this and will not be ready to talk with you. The person may become angry and tell you it is none of your business. Your friend may thank you and agree to make some changes. He or she may tell you about a problem that goes well beyond your ability to be helpful. In all cases, it is important to listen to what the person says. 

  • Tell the person what you would like to see him or her do

“If you are going to gamble, I want you to set a limit for losses ahead of time and stick to it.”

“I want you to talk to someone about your gambling problem.”

  • Tell the person what you are willing and able to do to help. Responses can range from simply being available as a good listener to encouraging the person to arrange a meeting with someone who can help. If the person chooses to say nothing, let him or her know that the door is open to discuss this at a future time.

“I’m always here if you need a friend to talk with and a hug.”

"I won't lend you money to cover your losses or lie for you, but I will help you find someone who can help you with your gambling problem"

Remember, the best time and place to talk with someone about an important topic is when you feel comfortable, are not likely to be disturbed, and have plenty of time to talk things through. It is also important to talk when neither of you has been drinking or using other drugs.  

This section, “What to Say if Someone’s Gambling Concerns You,” is excerpted from the Minnesota Institute of Public Health’s booklet “Gambling Choices and Guidelines”.