Are you concerned that someone you know has a gambling problem, but not sure what type of things to look for? Knowing the warning signs can help you decide what action to take.

It is common to notice changes in the person's finances, mood and behaviour or how they spend their time. 

Financial signs

Some common financial warning signs that someone may have a problem with gambling include:

  • Money missing from bank accounts, wallet/purse or money jar
  • Household items and valuables missing
  • Regularly short of money even though they earn a wage
  • Borrowing money on a regular basis
  • Having many loans at the one time
  • Being secretive about financial records or payslips
  • Unpaid bills/disconnection notices
  • Lack of food in the house.

Mood and behavioural signs

When someone develops a gambling problem, there are often noticeable changes to their mood and behaviour, including:

  • Becoming withdrawn from others/family events
  • Performance at work is being affected
  • Seeming worried, agitated or upset for no apparent reason
  • Reporting feeling hopeless, depressed, frustrated or suicidal
  • Changes in personality - sleeping, eating, or sexual relationship patterns
  • Controlling and/or manipulative behaviour
  • Using threats, lies or charm to manipulate others.

Time related signs

Some common time-related signs that could indicate someone has a problem with gambling include:

  • Spending more and more time gambling
  • Being secretive about unexplained absences
  • Often being late for commitments
  • Taking a lot of sick days or days off
  • Taking an unusual amount of time for simple tasks (e.g. taking two hours to get the paper from the shops).

Remember Gambling behaviour is often hidden

It can be difficult to know if someone has a problem with gambling. Initially we may not want to believe that someone we know or love has a problem with gambling. 

It can also be difficult to detect a gambling problem, because many people who gamble do not show their feelings and may lie or get angry if questioned about their behaviour. 

People sometimes say they feel that they should have noticed sooner, but remember the person gambling may have gone to great lengths to hide it from you. 

Once you have noticed there are many ways we can help you and the person gambling – why not start chatting to one of our Counsellors today, it’s free, confidential and available 24/7:

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Next steps

Find out how you can help someone with a gambling problem.

Check out the family and friends section of the forum, where others have posted about their experiences helping others