Concerned about the effects of someone's problem gambling? Find out more about how someone's gambling might be impacting on you and others.

Impacts of gambling

It is estimated that for every person who has a gambling problem another seven people are adversely affected.

A person's gambling behaviour can have serious social, emotional, physical and financial impacts on those who are close to them.

A relationship with someone who has a gambling problem can be very distressing and overwhelming. This is particularly the case when you don’t know how to help your loved one and can see them struggling with this addiction. 

Whether it is your partner, child, parent or friend, the behaviour and consequences that result from problem gambling can have a significant impact.

Often those with gambling problems act out of character, for example they may demand money or become angry when money issues are raised. 

If you or someone you know is experiencing any type of abuse it is important to seek support. Some people feel apprehensive or even embarrassed about asking for help but it is important to protect yourself and learn how best to deal with what is going on with your life. 

The following free helplines are available 24 hours per day, seven days per week:

In case of immediate danger contact 000.

The following section discusses some impacts of problem gambling behaviours.

It is important to remember that these behaviours are often out of character adding to the gambler's feelings of guilt and shame which can fuel ongoing gambling.

Gambling can become an escape for having to face these devastating impacts.

Types of impacts

Research shows that people who are close to someone with a gambling problem might experience a range of emotional, psychological and financial effects, such as:

Emotional
  • Physical and/or emotional abuse
  • Relationship breakdowns
  • Lack of intimacy
  • Feelings of worthlessness
  • Feelings of shame and embarrassment
  • Feelings of helplessness.
Psychological
  • Stress-related illnesses
  • Social isolation
  • Family arguments
  • Depression and anxiety
  • Poor sleep.
Financial
  • Financial issues and hardship
  • Loss of property and valued items
  • Inability to meet bills and increasing debts 
  • Decreased work or school performance.

Thinking about the effect another person's gambling is having on your life is a good place to start in terms of managing the impact. Free help is available for family members and others who are close to a problem gambler.

Impacts on children

Children can be affected by family dynamics such as stress and conflict.  Some common responses children may develop as a consequence of problem gambling include: 

  • Loss of trust as a result of lies, secrets and broken promises
  • Feeling depressed - children can feel powerless to deal with the problem and may blame themselves for the behaviour
  • Feeling anxious - children may feel scared of losing a parent due to separation or divorce
  • Loss of self-esteem
  • Social withdrawal and isolation because they feel different to others
  • Feeling ashamed, angry, hurt or lonely.

Getting help for a problem and regaining control of your life is an effective part of positive parenting. Some services they can access include: